Hey New Britain! It’s Matthew Lewicki and Debbie-Marie Brown. This is our first time writing in the New Britain City Journal (or any newspaper for that matter) and we’re honored by the opportunity handed to us.
We’d like to start off by saying that we’re 8th graders at The House of Arts Letters and Sciences Academy. HALS is a small learning community in New Britain for kids in grades 6 through 8. About 160 kids go to school here. Essentially, it’s a school for “the Gifted and Talented” because, at HALS, our curriculum is fundamentally accelerated.
The admissions process to HALS is a combination of our CMT scores, report cards from previous years, as well as our results from The Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary and Middle School Students. The Sages test is a standardized test that determines whether or not students have the needed requirements to be accepted into the HALS community. Fifth graders who show high grades, who have attained goal or higher in the CMT, and who live in New Britain can take this test the first week of February.
In 6th grade, teachers review elementary school work as well as the advanced 6th grade curriculum. In 7th grade, we are taught an accelerated 7th grade curriculum, accompanied by 8th grade work that instills us with great work ethic. By 8th grade, students are placed in 9th grade courses such as Algebra 1 and Pre-AP US History. In fact, we just took our US history midterm on Monday, February 6th.
Not only are we unique in what we learn, we’re unique in the type of things we learn. HALS is the only middle school in New Britain that offers Mandarin Chinese as a language.
In addition to an accelerated curriculum, HALS truly tries to prepare us for the 21st Century. Teachers always try to find things that will help get us ready for ‘the real world.’ Students learn to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as a way to present projects to make us more tech savvy. Activities and work is done to ensure future success in our careers. We also are instructed to be career ready by learning how to write business emails, by perfecting our leadership abilities, and by developing business and professional skills in our HALS microsociety.
Microsociety is basically, exactly what the name suggests. It is a student run society for students at HALS. We are all hired for a job. These jobs include: the bank, graphic arts, the art venture, lawyers, student government, cooking, peer mediation, the music venture, the Chinese venture, and the newspaper. Debbie plays her guitar in the Music venture and Matt participates in the student council. We feel that we’re far ahead of our peers in terms of preparation for the 21st Century.
We all think that attending HALS is an awesome opportunity and our test scores show it.
We plan to write something again in about a month, we hope that you look forward to it!