Students As Citizens

Because the Academy is committed to helping students make informed decisions and participate in democracy as active thinkers and leaders, the curriculum focuses on citizenship in the 21st century and, more specifically, on what it means to be a responsible American in an interconnected world. Because the Academy considers successful admission to college a necessary step on the road to personal success, a course called "College Planning and Preparation" is a fundamental part of the curriculum. The Academy’s integrated course of study continues from the first summer to the second. In the third summer, Crimson Scholars take courses at the Harvard Summer School, for which they receive college credit.

Career Exploration Fieldwork, offered during the Academy’s second summer, provides Crimson Scholars the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of post-college options during focused, small-group field trips designed to maximize the attention they receive from high-level professionals, who discuss with the Scholars their own struggles, successes, and professional realities while informing them of the vast and often surprising opportunities available to them. Field work has included visits to corporations such as Hasbro Toys, Genzyme, Google, Reebok, and Sasaki Associates; Goodwin Proctor LLP, the John Adams Federal Courthouse, and the Massachusetts Statehouse; the Boston Aquarium, the New England Patriots, Soup2Nuts, Uber and WGBH; Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Boston, and Harvard Medical School.
The CSA College Planning & Preparation sequence helps prepare students to become viable candidates for admission to a range of challenging four-year colleges and universities by focusing on the students’ academic needs and concerns and by educating them about the college application process. There are many strategies and suggestions from which all CSA students benefit, but both summers of CPP also address how this information can be incorporated into each student’s complex and unique life. The first summer’s curriculum is designed to meet the demands of the sophomore year of high school, while taking into account the varied experiences that each student brings to the Academy. The second summer is designed to coincide with CSA's Career Exploration Fieldwork. Junior Scholars examine their passions and see how they might translate into career interests. Other topics covered in depth include developing leadership skills within the community and understanding the complex process of college admissions. The CPP sequence uses seminar discussion, workshops, and one-on-one conferences to make sure that every student ends each summer with a clear plan for the coming year.
The CSA Quantitative Reasoning sequence uses mathematical thinking to explore real-world applications. Through case studies and mathematical strategies, students engage in new and different ways of thinking while investigating important topics. In the first summer, students learn a variety of problem-solving techniques, including statistical analysis and computer programming, as they focus on two topics: algebraic models (primarily quadratic and exponential) and models of voting (including demographics). In the second summer, students engage with two new topics: cryptography and trigonometric models. In both summers, students apply mathematics to questions that connect with the Academy’s other courses and with its overall theme of "The Student as Citizen." The QR sequence is challenging and surprising: by the end of the second summer, students have a new perspective on what mathematics is all about.
The CSA Science & Technology sequence explores questions of identity and community: Who am I? What does identity mean in a scientific sense? How am I different from and similar to other citizens of the world? What is the historical impact that science knowledge has had in my community? How can I make a difference in the lives of the people around me by studying science? In both summers, students learn through exciting weekly laboratory sessions and research. They work in small groups, using sophisticated equipment. In the first summer, they dissect a mammalian heart and eyeball, and explore the controversial issues raised by our increasing access to personal data such as Body Mass Index, facial recognition information, voice recordings, genotypes, and more. Whereas the first summer emphasizes the importance of science in defining who we are, the second summer challenges students to think about the role that scientific knowledge can have in their communities and the ways that they can make a difference in their homes and in their neighborhoods. To help students in this endeavor, the second summer’s curriculum gives practical as well as academic knowledge: heart disease and hypertension, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training, genetics and genetic counseling access. In both summers, students create print and web portfolios that summarize their work and can be shared with their communities.
Whether you are writing or speaking, you are entering a conversation that has already been in progress. Either of these forms of communication allows you to enter that conversation with something important to say. In the CSA Writing & Speaking course, Scholars work on becoming more confident writers and speakers through training and practice. They craft products in different genres as they think their way to understanding, engaging deeply with rich texts about which they can write and deliver powerful arguments. What does it take to craft and defend a quality literacy narrative or academic essay? What are strategies to not only read difficult texts, but to make meaning, comprehend and maybe even enjoy reading them? How is writing an academic essay like having a really good conversation? What does it take to not only craft a technically correct piece of expository writing, but to give it voice and make it say something interesting, important and unique? What are the differences between speaking and writing? What role does the awareness of audience play when we write and when we speak? Through studies of strategies like annotation, close reading and summarizing, CSA Scholars learn how to focus when reading a difficult text, figure out what the author is saying, and develop a response. Through critically reading, brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, conferencing and workshopping their essays, they develop the skills to write with conviction and clarity, and to orally debate and defend their ideas, because writing and speaking what we think and feel matters so importantly.

Each summer meant developing skills to help me see through a creative lens, articulate myself in meaningful ways, and build my confidence in a manner that would help me flourish anywhere I could envision myself in the world.

Gabrielle Farrell, Bryn Mawr ‘12