WEST ORANGE, NJ - (Editor's Note - We are pleased to publish some special articles on West Orange High School by Seniors in the Escriptus Honor Society. The following article is written by Alex Goldman and discusses the Institute for Math and Science.)
Upon entering West Orange High School as a freshman, students are overwhelmed by the massive amount of new faces. Students generally find it difficult to adjust from middle school, with a couple hundred peers, to West Orange High School with roughly 2,000 students. For those incoming freshman who are up for an academic challenge, the high school offers admission to a selective small learning community IMS: the Institute for Math and Science.
Of the many small learning communities within West Orange High School, IMS was founded in 2010 with the hopes of having an elite group of students motivate each other in their academic endeavors. Each year a group of roughly 60 students are admitted to IMS: from those 60 they are then split again into three subgroups. These three smaller groups within the program study together in their Honors IMS math, English, and science courses. Students have the added benefit of learning with the same teachers and having an added rigor primarily based on applications in their classes.
In addition to more rigorous courses, IMS offers students early exposure to college planning and preparation. While most students wait until their junior or senior year to begin visiting colleges, IMS offers its members field trip opportunities to visit many colleges and universities. Some of the colleges IMS has visited in the past include Rutgers University, UMDNJ, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and many more.
The class of 2014 was the first class to be offered admission to IMS and produced very positive results with the top five percent of the graduating class being composed mostly of IMS students. “IMS was definitely helpful in arranging college visits for us and making us think seriously about the future,” said valedictorian Susannah Crowell, “Although it could have done more to expose us to the many possible fields of study within math and science.” Now in its third year, the Institute for Math and Science has helped many students at West Orange High School and will continue to do so in the future.