The beginning of a new year is a time to think about “fresh starts.” Some of us start a new diet, while some may even begin a new job. One of the biggest fresh starts for families is the beginning of kindergarten for their child. While the first day of kindergarten is filled with smiles and hopefully not too many tears, the months leading up to that first day can be filled with many decisions and some resulting anxiety for parents.
The Kindergarten Decision
One of the very first school-related family decisions is where your child will attend kindergarten. Neighborhood schools, charter schools, private schools, and in some cases, magnet schools, are among the options. Classical School, a kindergarten through 8th grade charter school in the Appleton Area School District, is one alternative. There are many ways to determine if Classical School is the correct choice for your family.
Classical School hosts evening informational sessions for prospective families during the application period, December through February. These sessions include a presentation, time for questions, the opportunity to review curriculum materials, and a tour of the school. If possible, parents are also encouraged to visit Classical School to observe the program in action. Please check the school website calendar for dates of informational sessions and contact our Program Support Specialist, Kathy Diedrich, at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to observe in the classroom. The school website also contains a wealth of information, including details on academic programs and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that may be helpful in making the kindergarten decision. Finally, parents are highly encouraged to review the Understanding the Classical School Choice document to be certain they are in agreement with the philosophy of Classical School.
Preparing for Kindergarten
Families who decide Classical School is the best choice for them, after applying for the lottery, are encouraged to work with their child to prepare for the Classical School kindergarten program. Areas of suggested preparation include basic math, reading, penmanship, and personal responsibility. The Kindergarten Orientation Packet on the school website includes more details on ways to prepare in each of these areas. Classical School also participates in the Appleton Area School District summer school program and offers a kindergarten readiness program aligned with the school’s philosophy and curriculum. The summer school program, while not mandatory, is highly encouraged to help your child prepare for kindergarten and become familiar with the school and their potential classmates. More information, including summer school registration information, can be found on the school website each year in February.
Students who gain admittance to Classical School through the lottery are notified beginning in mid-March. Kindergarten orientation for enrolled students is typically held in May and offers students and parents a chance to meet teachers and experience a classroom lesson. Placement tests in reading and math are generally scheduled during the summer to help place students in the correct skill level group in each of those academic areas. The week prior to school beginning, students and parents have an opportunity to drop-off school supplies, get some additional information from the teachers, and locate their desk at a Meet and Greet event.
Classical School has two kindergarten classrooms with 26 students per classroom. The classroom teachers, Mrs. Bomann and Mrs. Nagreen, are each supported by a member of the paraprofessional staff during daily reading and math classes. Both Mrs. Bomann and Mrs. Nagreen are parents of current Classical School students or school alumni. More information on the school’s passionate kindergarten teachers is found in the Kindergarten Readiness Packet.
Morning supervision begins outside school at 7:30 am. The bell for kindergartners through sixth grade students to enter school rings at 7:54 am, and classes begin at 8:00 am. No bussing is provided for any of the Appleton Area School District charter schools. Rather, parents drive their students to school or arrange carpooling. For parents who may need to drop their student off earlier than 7:30 am, the Fox Cities YMCA provides before care services at Ferber Elementary, next door to Classical School. Parents interested in before care must make arrangements directly with the YMCA by calling their School Age Office at (920) 954-7641.
Teachers at Classical School are respected and valued members of the school community trusted with ensuring every educational minute matters. The Kindergarten day at Classical School is scheduled around the foundational classes of reading and math, each of which is approximately an hour in length. Both the reading and math programs are based on content standards set forth in the Core Knowledge® Sequence. Teachers use the scripted and systematic Direct Instruction method and materials to teach beginning reading. The lessons are carefully planned and tested to maximize student learning through just the right amount of repetition for each new concept while building upon previously introduced knowledge. The ultimate goal of the beginning reading program is to prepare students to read unabridged classic literature as early as 4th grade. The proven Saxon Math program is used to deliver math instruction from Saxon Kindergarten to Geometry. The curriculum distributes content throughout the year using an integrated and connected approach to provide mastery of mathematical content and skills.
The remainder of Kindergarten instructional time is used to cover science, language arts, history, geography, music, and visual arts, all of which are guided by the Core Knowledge® Sequence. Art class is held once per week for 50 minutes, while music and physical education classes are held twice per week for 30 minutes each. Beyond the Core Knowledge® Sequence, daily Spanish instruction of 25 minutes begins in Kindergarten, as does an introduction to Latin vocabulary. Because the youngest Classical School students need time during the school day to rest and play, Kindergarteners have snack time each morning and play time at the end of the day, in addition to lunch and afternoon recesses. Field trips are planned periodically throughout the school year to build upon the curriculum.
The school day for Kindergartners through 6th grade students concludes at 2:49 pm. The YMCA provides on-site after care services at Classical School. Parents interested in after care must make arrangements directly with the YMCA by calling their School Age Office at (920) 954-7641. Beginning in 2nd grade, optional school-sponsored clubs and activities such as mythology club, chess club, and running club, are also available after school. Our 7th and 8th grade students have the option of participating in athletics at Einstein Middle School. While rehearsals are held during the school day, students may also begin participating in musical ensembles as early as 4th grade by joining orchestra, 6th grade as a member of the band, and 7th grade in choir.
In addition to the content-rich curriculum and time-honored educational practices, Classical School is distinguished by a committed Kindergarten through 8th grade community. With the support of many volunteers, several school-wide events are held throughout the year including Fall Fest, the Rockin’ 50s and 60s School Dance, Knowledge-A-Thon, International Fair, and Fine Arts Night. Parents, and some grandparents, also volunteer in classrooms, on field trips, and in many other capacities during the school day. As a charter school, Classical School is governed by the Classical Charter School Association (CCSA) Board, a Wisconsin not-for-profit corporation, made up of parent and community volunteers.
Students who graduate from eighth grade at Classical School have many options for continuing their education. Many will choose to attend their neighborhood high school or attend one of the other AASD comprehensive high schools (East, West, or North), while others apply to a charter high school or attend a private school. Whatever their choice, Classical School graduates become members of their high school community valued as critical thinkers, coherent writers, confident speakers, thoughtful leaders, and virtuous citizens.
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