Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 21st Century Diploma

by Halsey Quinn

This year, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district has introduced a new program that is designed to prepare students for their future in the 21st century. The 21st Century Diploma is a program that encourages students to develop and learn the skills that they will need for their future.
It consists of an online portfolio for each student, where they will keep track of activities they have completed for points. If they earn 100 points from the time students enter high school as freshmen to the time they graduate, then they will receive a special diploma, a 21st Century Diploma.
Six important aspects for life in the 21st century are considered to be: life-long learner, health and fitness, communication, work ethic, information technology, and global awareness. The activities are divided into these six areas that will help students develop these qualities. Although this program is designed to prepare students for the future, it isn’t all about new technologies. The program also emphasizes interest in the arts, in books, newspapers, Broadway shows, museums, fitness and more. In the end, they hope that the students who complete this program will become hard-working, well-round students.
Participating students will create an online portfolio, submitting proof of completed activities to earn points. To enter an upcoming activity, students can send a message to the administrators for approval. After completing the activity and submitting an artifact to their portfolio, a teacher will review it.
There are a group of teachers who have volunteered to review the projects. The subject of the activity will correspond to the teacher that reviews it. This brand new program is already in full swing. There have already been over 100 activities requested and approved.
The website, which is a link on the school district’s homepage, has a very helpful FAQ for those who have questions, or do not completely understand how the program works. According to the FAQ, not everything about the program is set in stone, there are a few flexibilities. Participants are not limited to the listed activities. They are encouraged to submit their own ideas for approval. An activity that is listed for a certain category can be counted for a different one if it also applies.
If you receive 99 points, it wasn’t all for nothing. If a student attempts the program, they will receive a certificate that notes how many points they earned. Also, because this is the first year of the program, seniors, juniors and sophomores will not have to earn the full 100 points by the end of their senior year. Seniors will only have to earn 30 points, while juniors are required to earn 60, and sophomores are required 80.
Since this program is new, and because it is being done locally, many colleges will most likely not be familiar with it. Along with your transcript, the guidance department will be sure to send an explanation of the program.
Aubri Juhasz and Joelle Lee are participants in the 21st century diploma program. They both believe that the diploma will be a nice addition to their college applications. “I’ve already requested 17 activities,” says Juhasz, while Lee is just getting started with it. “It looks like a really fun program,” she says.

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