Education

'CHS for a Day' Invites Public to Sample Life of High School Student

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Classes will be in session at Columbia High School on Saturday -- for members of the public who want to sample the high school's curriculum. (Photo: Caitlin Carroll)
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MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Once students graduate from high school, few ever think that they’ll go back.

But at Columbia High School, the Achieve Foundation is hoping parents and community members will be interested in just that: Going to high school.

On Saturday the school, which serves Maplewood and South Orange, will host “CHS for a Day,” a program that allows parents and adult community members to take up to four classes offered by the school and taught by the teachers, as well as to have lunch in the Cougar Café, the school’s cafeteria.

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The idea for the program came from the parent of a high school student who found the student’s course choices to be very interesting, said Deborah Trinz, executive director of the Achieve Foundation.

“Having had three kids go through Columbia High School, we have some really outstanding teachers there and I’m really excited about this because it’s going to give us a chance to let people know firsthand the caliber of educators who work at our high school and the breadth of courses that we offer there,” Trinz said, adding that it was an unusual event for a high school, as such programs were usually reserved for colleges and universities.

Trinz added that the variety of courses offered by the school was remarkable, “especially in this day and age with the budget cuts, our district has been able to maintain a pretty broad and high-quality course offerings for the high school students.”

The courses offered through the event include science, writing, art, photography and technology.

Some of the classes offered are high school standards: Creative Writing, Physics in Everyday Life and Art History. Others are, in a word, practical, such as Essential Study Skills and Computer Applications for Business. Some are more unusual, such as Drawing and the Right Side of the Brain, Genetics and You!, Who is Patient Zero? and Interactive Shakespeare.

The first session is set to begin at 9:45 a.m. and the last session begins at 2 p.m., with sessions at 10:55 a.m. and 12:55 p.m. Lunch will be served at noon.

Participants can register for as many classes as they want. Each class is $10, and participants can choose one class per session. For $40, participants can register for a class in each of the four sessions and they will also get lunch in the Cougar Café.

To register, interested community members can visit www.achievefoundation.org to see the full course list and call 973-378-2055. Registration will be possible at the door, although all the classes may not be open. Trinz advises people who want to register upon arrival to get there early, around 9 a.m., so that they have the largest selection of classes.

Trinz said that the Foundation would pay the teachers for their time.

“Right from the start, we were planning to pay them for this,” Trinz said. “(The teachers are) professionals; their time is valuable…They get asked to do a lot of things on a volunteer basis, and especially since we’d never tried it before, we wanted to make it worthwhile for them.”

While the event is not primarily a fundraiser, any leftover money raised will go toward restoring the school’s auditorium, Trinz said.

Caitlin Carroll is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.

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