On Monday, July 15th, Foxcroft Academy welcomed ten upcoming freshman students into its halls for the fourth year of Freshman Academy. A three-week program held during regular school hours, Freshman Academy helps students acquire the confidence and preparedness they need for success in their time at Foxcroft Academy. Freshman Academy does this by offering the students academic classes in English and Math, various projects, and activities.
Karen Smith is the English teacher for the program–last year was her first year teaching for Freshman Academy. She used to work with FA math teacher Ryan Nickerson, who had been a Math teacher for the program since the start. However, this year, the new math teacher at FA, John Cornett, took over and joined Smith in teaching.
The essential mission of the program is to introduce the upcoming freshman to high school life and make them comfortable in the environment. “We want to give them a positive experience at school so that they can be more confident and comfortable,” said Assistant Head of School for Academics Jonathan Pratt. To do that, the students must first get used to the campus and their surroundings, which is precisely what Freshman Academy helps them to do.
At the start of their day at Freshman Academy, the students perform the same routines that most students at Foxcroft Academy do. They are provided transportation and breakfast, then begin with an hour of skill work. This includes English convention skills, literature, math skills, and more. After their skill work, the students enjoy an hour of physical activity; this ranged from tennis to basketball.
The Freshman Academy program also helps students to prepare for the school year ahead by requiring them to accomplish their mandatory summer reading assignment. By doing their report before the school year even begins, this would allow the students to focus more on their academic classes and other involvements in the school community. The thirty minutes of silent reading they are given after their physical activity encourages them to do so.
Along with the summer reading requirement, students also have the opportunity at Freshman Academy to complete their required community service hours– after silent reading, they are given time to work on projects like such. Other projects include various English projects, such as writing poetry or creating a vision board. On the vision board, students write of how they see themselves, what types of things they want to improve on, what they want to be involved in, and what they want to accomplish during freshman year.
On Friday’s, the group of students goes on a field trip. The first Friday, Smith, and Cornett took the students to the University of Maine at Orono to tour the campus and get more information about the school. On the second week, the students took a trip to the Bangor Escape Room, where they had to work together to escape a room filled with puzzles and riddles. The group had an hour to escape and did so with five minutes to spare. During their last week, the group had a beach trip on one of the warmer days, and on their last day, they took a trip to tour Kennebec Valley Community College.
English teacher Karen Smith revealed that the best part about working for this program is seeing the strong relationships built over the course of the three weeks. “The students who I had last summer would come back and visit me throughout the year,” said Smith. She enjoyed making connections with the students and seeing them gain comfortability with not only faculty and peers at FA but with the school itself. “It gives them the confidence to come here on the first day,” said Smith, which ultimately is the goal of Freshman Academy.