Academies Spotlight: Lights Academy
Many high schoolers graduate without knowing how their talents and passions translate into a career path. That's where the Academies come in.
BY Amy Kopecky
When Daniel Saline joined the very first Lights Academy, he didn’t realize how much it would change his life.
Like we encourage all students to do in the Academies, he pursued his God-given passion and gifts. He built his portfolio around the design of sports logos, uniforms, and other sports memorabilia. After graduating from Lutheran High, he attended Boise State University and was hired by a local company that created logos and uniforms for local teams. From there, he was hired by the university athletic department and the football program to design and create content for social media. Today, he is a full-time employee for the Boise State Athletics Department, all thanks to God’s call on his life that he heard while being guided in the Lights Academy.
What is an Academy?
Many students these days graduate with a high school degree but without a clue about how their talents, skills, and passions translate into a career path. That’s why Lutheran High has developed our unique Academies curricula. Students can choose from Art, Business, Lights, Music, Mission and Ministries, and STEM for invaluable research and guidance in answering some of their big vocational questions before they launch into the world.
Lights Academy has its own unique focus and is growing rapidly.
Lights Academy incorporates our 4 essential “C’s”
Each Academy has its own curriculum of coursework. When students complete the requirements, they receive an endorsement on their high school transcript to show colleges that they went above and beyond the essentials and dedicated themselves to a particular skill-set.
Lights Academy is one of the two academies that has its own dedicated course time, which is two class periods a day over two years. This gives the faculty ample time to guide students and gives the students ample time to excel in their research and studies.
Some regular courses, such as Public Speaking and Government, are embedded within Lights Academy because students benefit from excellent communication skills and project-based research into our political system. Also, it frees up the schedules of students who are making a significant commitment by choosing Lights Academy.
Collaborative Community Experience
Students are expected to elicit help for their projects from experts in their fields. Sometimes students are able to identify these people on their own and sometimes they need faculty help to make these connections. Through interviews, site visits, mentoring opportunities, and advisory roles, students regularly connect with community members from whom they can learn and with whom they can work to provide for a richer learning experience.
Within Lights Academy, students are exposed to learning activities that cover some of the important themes in other academies, such as Christian business, personal finance, and leadership strategies. These opportunities are accomplished through both individual and group activities.
The Capstone Project is a significant learning and research experience that is embraced for more than half of a student's senior year. This is where students “put it all together", applying everything they have learned about research and presentation. Capstone presentations are seminal events for students to prepare for their futures while making a difference today as they reach out to our school community with topics of great importance.
A Growing Academy
Lights Academy has more students involved each year, which isn’t surprising. Peers are inspired when they see their friends’ amazing Capstone Project presentations. They’re enticed by the project-based learning model and the student-driven, independent research style. In addition, there are many specific skills built into Lights Academy, especially the so-called "soft skills" that employers crave today: collaboration, individual initiative, problem-solving, time management, etc. Instead of being passive receivers of content, students become active creators of content, taking responsibility for their own education.
David Black, Director of Lights Academy, has also grown with the program. “I have learned through my own growth and development as an educator to better help students feel comfortable with this way of learning. For instance, I have learned to be intentional about sharing the "why" of everything we do. I want students to specifically see how everything we do will benefit them both now and in the future. I have learned how to better guide students in asking good questions and unleashing them to pursue answers to THEIR questions. I also think our Public Speaking process in Lights Academy has become something that most graduates point to as one of the most meaningful experiences in their two years in Lights Academy.”
Over the years, Lights Academy has proven its value. By joining Lights, our high schoolers are given the time and necessary resources to “Pursue their Passion, Honor God, and Serve the Community."
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