Concord-Carlisle High School Learning Commons
Dr. Robin Cicchetti, Head Librarian
The Concord-Carlisle Regional High School Learning Commons is a busy place! For the past ten years we have conducted head counts once per block, and our data tells us that last year we hosted 65,718 student visits, not counting visiting class or before/after school activities. Our lively after school club program, overseen by library assistant Max Close, runs until 5pm daily.
Combating Student Stress
Our monthly coloring contests have been an incredible hit with students. Library assistants Lou Ann Franke chooses the monthly theme and has a folder where students can store their work until it is finished. At the end of the month all are displayed and students vote for their favorite. It is an easy, fun activity that students enjoy, builds community, and gives them a fun and relaxing activity during their busy day.
Another aspect of Challenge Success and our School Improvement Plan is academic integrity. Revisiting our old policies and procedures made it clear that it was time for an update. Two years ago I worked with a colleague to do a review of peer schools and make a recommendation for updates to the CCHS policy and procedure. The proposal is now making its way through the academic departments for feedback and will be implemented next year. The biggest change is a switch from punitive language and rigid consequences for plagiarism, to a growth model that supports students in acquiring skills. Consequences for a 9th grader who is still working on the nuances of in-text citation should be different than those of an upper classmen with a high similarity match on Turn It In that indicates intentional plagiarism. The slide deck that outlines our process can be found here. (Shout out and thanks to Weston High School! We really liked the way they chose positive, aspirational language and used academic integrity as a way to describe their community. We found that inspirational.)
Fostering a Reading Culture
One of our school goals is fostering a reading culture throughout our community. Not just for our students, but for our faculty as well. We started the initiative two summers ago with an optional faculty summer reading activity that was subsidized by our Parent Association during the first year. It was designed to build buy-in to the idea of a shared reading culture and has found an enthusiastic core that encompasses members from all departments. Our discussion groups have met in private homes for dinner, during lunch blocks during the school day, and the most recent met at a local restaurant. We were all amazed at how many people go out on a school night! Students have been invited to participate and this remains an area of growth for the program. We are leveraging our Advisory program to build interest. We chose titles using a thematic approach that gave people flexibility in choice and the potential for a broad discussion with many access points.
Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. New York, Penguin Books, 2014.
Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner export ed., New York [etc.], Scribner, 2015.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah. 2017 ed., New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York, Random House Publishing Group, 2015.
Hobbs, Jeff. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. New York, Scribner, 2014.
2017-18 (no thematic approach)
Vance, J. D. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. New York, Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2016.
Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. New York, Doubleday, 2016.
This coming summer we will be working on a One School, One Question program. A student and faculty panel will be formed to solicit recommendations. The final selections will hopefully mark a true transition to a school-wide, shared, reading culture.
Keeping our students at the front of our planning, tightly aligned to our school goals, is helping us achieve our vision for our program.