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Einstein Academy offers unique experiences

Posted: October 25, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: October 25, 2011 1:30 a.m.

There seems to be a shroud of mystery surrounding the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences, a year-old charter school off Kelly Johnson Parkway. As a returning 10th-grade student, allow me to set the record straight.

The school has a student body of about 270 seventh- through 10th-graders, and will continue to grow as the school expands to include 11th and 12th grade in the coming years.

The academy was founded by Mark Blazer with Principal Edward Gika and Vice Principal Michael McDonnell heading the faculty. The school has a college-preparatory focus, which is ultimately what compelled me to enroll.

Now in my second year of attendance, a typical day at school is often a hands-on, engaging experience. I start the day a half-hour earlier than the majority of the students in order to attend the daily student government officers meeting.

Then, it’s on to my core classes, including Advanced Placement European history, the school’s maiden voyage into Advanced Placement curriculum. The course has so far proved to be challenging, but enthralling nonetheless; a recent field trip to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena served as a fascinating conclusion to our Renaissance unit.

Reading about the master works of Raphael is an entirely different experience from seeing “Madonna and Child with Book” in person. Because of the small class sizes at the academy, such excursions are much easier to expedite than they would be at a comparable massive public school.

Fifth-period journalism is another highlight. As editor-in-chief presiding over a small staff, I’m often busy but never bored, and have a great deal of control over the final product.

The school paper is starting from scratch in many regards, so every decision — from layout to contents to method of distribution — is being made by our paper’s staff this year.

Albert Einstein Academy prides itself on providing a wealth of diverse activities and individualized attention to its students.

As a result, I’ve been granted opportunities that are downright rare at larger schools, such as holding an officer position in student government before my senior year and discussing literature with my principal between classes.

My peers and I have been able to shape school traditions from the ground up, helping to establish a welcoming community with a love of learning that can be sensed as soon as one enters the front office.

It’s this vibrant spirit, above all else, that makes attending Albert Einstein Academy a uniquely rewarding experience and the academy such a singular school in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Students flock here by choice, with the intention of preparing for a four-year university and, perhaps more importantly, bettering themselves as members of the community.

Indeed, the academy imposes community service requirements for all of its students. One can often spot a cluster of our students and faculty lending a hand at such charitable events as the River Rally, Relay for Life and the Step Out Walk.

Initially, I enrolled in the academy with the sole intention of racking up gold stars for my college resume. And with its ample selection of languages and challenging courses, the school has lived up to my expectations.

But the academy has influenced my life far beyond the classroom. I’ve fostered my passion for writing through numerous creative outlets, developed leadership skills that are readily applicable to the real world and have discovered a soft spot for animals while volunteering at a local pet shelter to fulfill community-service requirements.

My school experience thus far has been far from ordinary, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Claire Jennings is a 15-year-old sophomore who attends the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences.


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