Over the past three weeks, student leaders from Verona High School have been working in conjunction with North Star Academy, a charter school in Newark, to develop ideas for collaborative projects. The students from both schools found this partnership to be beneficial.
The partnership started with a visit to each other’s campuses. On Wednesday January 25, senior VHS Student Council members went to North Star Academy. Each Verona student was paired up with another student leader from North Star. VHS representatives were able to tour the facility as well as sit in and observe a class. The students were highly engaged in classroom discussions. Paige Nagy, a VHS senior, commented, “Getting to see a typical day of a North Star Academy Student was a great experience. It showed what we may lack here at VHS and what we may do better.” Senior Tycjana Konopka said, “After visiting North Star, I realized how lucky I am as a VHS student to have the independence I do in school and it was interesting to observe how they reacted to the less hands on approach the teachers at VHS have towards the students here.” The day concluded with a brainstorming session to come up with projects that students from both schools could collaborate on to complete.
The student leaders from North Star Academy came to visit VHS on Tuesday February 7. The VHS and NSA students spent the day touring various classrooms as well as finalizing ideas from their January 25 visit to the Newark charter school. Verona High School students gave the North Star students a presentation as to how daily life in Verona High School differs from North Star Academy. Shortly after, students were able to explore the school together and see first hand some of the unique and eye opening educational experiences Verona students get to enjoy. North Star students were able to meet various teachers from different departments, which gave insight as to the different teaching styles VHS teachers possess. Student Council President Austin Camp said, “Having student council allow the North Star students to experience a typical day in the life of a Verona High School student was great. It showed the fluidity and freedom public school students have.” Junior Student Council members Sam Volpe and Kevin Scanlon said they thought the day was insightful, and that was interesting to see a different perspective about school from the North Star students.
VHS and North Star Academy hope to complete a few joint projects together during this school year. Both schools publish literary magazines (VHS has Avant Garde, while NSA has Broad and Central) and hope to have student work crossover into both magazines. Another goal is a joint community service project between both National Honor Societies. Senior Jake Houthuysen hopes an even stronger relationship will develop as a result of this initial setup. He said, “I thought it was a great experience because we all did more than just compare differences in our schools. I think we all made legitimate friends and created a partnership with our schools that will last a long time.”