Onondaga Nation Communications
By Sue Lyons and Summer Frazier
The Big Picture School is a new type of high school located in the Grimshaw Elementary School. This school is incorporating real life experience with the academics needed to succeed in the real world. The school consists of a principal and one student advisor who have been trained in the Big Picture school philosophy and practice. Mrs. Osborne is the principal of the school and Leonardo Oppedisano (former seventh grade science teacher at the high school) is the Student advisor for this group of students.
A personalized teaching environment is an alternative to the traditional teaching methods, provided by most public schools. More responsibility is placed with the student because they need to identify their interests, and follow up on them. Each student will job shadow a mentor and intern outside of the school on an actual job site two days a week. There are no tests or report cards, the students in the program will complete projects that meet New York state curriculum standards. “Students will be required to apply and be accepted to a post secondary institution.” therefore “college becomes a real possibility for all of our students” (PowerPoint Mrs. Osborne, 2008). Some of the Big Picture students will excel academically when given the freedom to explore their interests. A PowerPoint created By Mrs. Osborne states “we are committed to the success of each of our students and will remain with each student through their four years of high school”. As the student advisor Mr. Oppedisano is “the cheerleader, the manager, and challenger” to his group of students for the next four years.
Mrs. Osborne sends out a newsletter every Friday updating the families on the progress of the class. Family participation is a key part in the students’ education. In last Friday’s newsletter Mrs. Osborne mentions the perfect attendance record of eight out of the fifteen students. With The philosophy and the family and community participation Of the School the Native students attending really seem to be flourishing in the Big Picture school environment. Out of the fifteen students in the school, eleven are native.
Here is what some of the Native students have to say about the school so far.
What is your favorite thing about this school?
Priscilla Cronin: “No bells and we are not on a time schedule”
Mason Rockwell: “The learning is easier, less stress, more freedom to learn, I am learning something that will take me somewhere”
Katelin Reusswig: “No homework, no tests everyone is my friend”
What would you like to say to younger students thinking
of applying for this school next year?
Regis Cook: “[You] should really know what [you] want to do before [you] come into the program.”
Katelin Reusswig: “Don’t give up there is hope you just have to wish for the best.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Priscilla Cronin: “An RN at Upstate Hospital, with a good, living good without worrying about money.”
Regis Cook: “Speaking (his native language) and running Ceremonies and a role model for young people.”
Mason Rockwell: “A part time job going to college”
Katelin Ruesswig: “Graduating, having my own daycare Business and continuing the family Pow Wow business.”
For more information about the Big Picture School,
please go to: lafayetteschools.org. The information in this article was obtained from www.bigpicture.org , Elizabeth Doran’s article from the Post Standard titled” Lafayette unveils a new kind of school, and from www.9wsyr.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=A0355093-5993-4B40-A276-15AB541FEC1.