Technical Education Post

News and Information for Technical Educators

GUEST COLUMN: The Arlington High School Educational Program

By Amy Speare / AHS Building Committee Member
Photo:  [Courtesy Photo / HMFH Architects]
Photo Caption: The Arlington High School Building Committee selected this design, 3a, as their preferred option for the AHS building project.

As part of the Arlington High School Building Project Feasibility Study, the district has created a comprehensive Educational Program that answers the question, “Where is AHS today and where does it want to go?”

The Educational Program informs the building design process to ensure that the final construction will be responsive to current and future programs. A priority for the newly designed facility is to improve the layout.

Instead of the current sprawling, inefficient design, the new facility will improve interdepartmental collaboration and reduce student travel time between classes.

English Language Arts classes are organized around the concept of discourse: discussion involving students, teachers, writers, readers, critical ideas and significant texts.

Vision of the future: a Discourse Lab to support multiple class presentations and debates; proximity to the Library Learning Commons.

The Mathematics Department offers advanced courses up to AP Calculus BC, as well as a growing range of offerings in Computer Science, CADD (Computer Aided Design and Drafting) and digital fabrication. The department values the importance of analytic thinking, collaboration, problem solving and integration across other disciplines.

Vision of the future: flexible spaces that support collaboration, presentation and exploration of rich tasks; integration with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) resources, the interdisciplinary Makerspace and Library Learning Commons.

History and Social Studies students experience history through interactive, real-life based activities and critical analysis of history.

Vision of the future: integrated technology, work spaces and presentation spaces; near the Library Learning Commons; Discourse Lab for debates, speakers and moot courts.

In addition to traditional Science courses, the school offers Environmental Science, Astronomy, Oceanography and Engineering.

Vision of the future: interdisciplinary coursework and projects; close access to STEAM resources, the computer lab, interdisciplinary Makerspace and Library Learning Commons.

World Languages offerings include Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin and Italian. World language learning is increasingly affected by technological advances, fostering international collaboration.

Vision of the future: Language Multimedia Immersion Lab with technology and kitchenette to support presentations, language immersion, testing and gatherings.

Physical Education courses include general physical education, climbing, winter survival, backpacking, yoga, mindfulness, personal fitness, weight lifting, walking and team sports.

Vision of the future: larger gymnasium that accommodates two simultaneous classes and a jogging track; alternative PE space and Fitness Facility; flexible classroom for Health, CPR and First Aid.

Visual Art courses focus on aesthetics and the creation of art. Currently, the department offers a broad course selection, including Digital Art, Painting, Sculpture, Mixed Media and Ceramics.

Vision of the future: promote integrated studies and connections with other departments (STEAM) neighboring the interdisciplinary Makerspace and Digital Arts Lab.

The Performing Arts department comprises performance programs and academic studies in music and theater arts. The program creates award-winning ensembles and productions, offering four instrumental ensembles (band, orchestra, jazz), four choral ensembles, digital music technology, theater and film studies and multiple music and drama performances.

Vision of the future: maintain large auditorium with improved facility; maintain a “Little Theater” for one-act plays, theater classes and production space; spaces for growing instrumental and choral ensembles; Digital Media Lab and Digital Production Lab.

The Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS) Department offers courses in Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education and Interior & Fashion Design. The Early Childhood Education program hosts a staff Daycare Program and also works closely with the Menotomy Preschool.

Vision of the future: spaces for growing childcare and preschool programs; programming and partnerships with a student-run cafe, the school store and Food Services.

Special Education services address the individual and diverse learning, social and emotional needs of students who require specialized instruction, and/or related services. Extensive programming includes 3 specialized programs (Reach, Compass and Summit), two integrated programs ‘suites’ (Millbrook and Workplace) and two academic support inclusion programs (Harbor and Short Stop).

Vision of the future: locate programs near the Library Learning Commons and Nurse with separate exterior entrances for specialized programs; spaces for both centralized and departmental academic support programs.

The current Library Media Center serves many purposes and is a hub of information, literacy, collaboration, projects and technology. The most visited and used space in the building, it is a nexus of many academic programs and is a school, community and district resource.

Vision of the future: centralized Library Learning Commons with a student-centered, participatory approach; large, collaborative/social/creating spaces with varied furniture and seating, quiet spaces, group study rooms, student support services; ‘Smart Center’ with traditional and emerging fabrication technology accessible to all students.

Menotomy Preschool, the special education LABBB collaborative program, Arlington Community Education, district offices and select Town offices currently housed at AHS will also require spaces within the town and it is yet to be determined which of these spaces would be housed in the future AHS facility.

For more information on the AHS Building Project or the complete Educational Program, visit

Tom Shaw

Technical Education Post, Online Publisher

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