Lafayette Jeff leans into arts for new graduation pathway
Long a strength at Lafayette Jeff, the visual and performing arts will help fulfill graduation requirements, starting next year, under a specialized plan approved by the state
Thanks today to sponsor Duke Energy, which is spotlighting Tree Lafayette and its Arbor Day plans for Saturday, April 29. The Duke Energy Foundation is a proud annual supporter of Tree Lafayette, contributing $15,000 to their 2023 planting fund.
LSC LINES UP FOR ARTS PATHWAY TO LAFAYETTE JEFF DIPLOMA
Lafayette School Corp. is leaning into its reputation and strength in visual and performing arts at Lafayette Jefferson High School, rolling out its own civic arts graduation pathway for students, starting with the class of 2024.
The LSC school board last week finalized the plan, after getting permission from the Indiana Department of Education to create the graduation qualifier specifically for Lafayette Jeff, based on coursework and local partnerships in dance, theater, choral, visual arts, band and orchestra.
“This really is such a strength at Jeff,” Laurie Rinehart, LSC’s assistant superintendent for secondary curriculum and instruction, said. “I can’t tell you how exciting it was to get that notification from the state Department of Education telling us this was approved.”
Starting with the class of 2023, this year’s seniors, students in Indiana have to meet three criteria to get a diploma. First, they need to earn a minimum of 40 credits to meet the states’ Core 40 requirements. Second, seniors must learn and demonstrate employability skills, which covers an array of possible projects, from capstone academic work or research project, putting in time with service-based learning activities or work-based learning through internships or employment outside school.
The third is what the state calls “postsecondary-ready competencies.” That means qualifying in at least one of several ways, including meeting standard scores on college-prep tests SAT or ACT; meeting the credits needed for academic honors or technical honors designations; serving in a federally recognized apprenticeship; passing a set number of AP or dual credit college courses; meeting minimum scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test; or completing advanced courses in state-approved Career and Technical Education pathways.
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Rinehart said that for students who weren’t what she called the best test takers felt pushed into Career and Technical Education courses, including those hosted by the new Greater Lafayette Career Academy, to make sure they graduate.
“CTE is great for so many of our students, especially with everything the Career Academy offers,” Rinehart said. “But it’s not always the best fit for all our kids. … We knew many of those students were doing the work and really thriving in band and art and choir and all those things Lafayette Jeff has always prided itself on.”
The state also allows school districts to create local graduation pathways that meet that third component of postsecondary-ready competencies.
Rinehart said LSC borrowed and adapted a civics arts pathway pioneered by Greater Clark County Schools, a district based in Jeffersonville.
In the plan approved by the state and by the LSC school board, Lafayette Jeff students taking the civics arts pathway will have to take three required courses in their discipline, including courses either in business management or the principles of teaching, along with at least one additional advanced course.
The state requirements also called on LSC to line internships and other opportunities for the students with community partners. Rinehart said LSC gathered commitments from leaders of arts groups, galleries, pottery studios, musical organizations and others, both in Lafayette and beyond, to offer hands-on and virtual work with students at Lafayette Jeff. Rinehart said most of the community partners already were working with Jeff teachers and students in various ways.
“We knew we had some buy-in, already,” Rinehart said. “The idea is to get industry partners into our schools and be part of what our students are doing.”
Janie Peters, owner of ART of Framing in Lafayette, was among them. Peters said her shop partners with Jeff’s art department by ordering supplies as a discounted rate, offering scrap and leftover matting and frames for the students to enter shows and collaborating with the teachers and students by hosting student shows at the shop’s gallery.
“ART of Framing works with the art department in several ways and, as I understand it, that won’t change,” Peters said.
Brian Powell, who owns Brian Powell Photography, said he often gets emails from students around the county looking for information and asking interview-style questions to explore photography as a profession.
“This seems like it would be more active and involved,” Powell said about being asked to be part of Lafayette Jeff’s civic arts graduation pathway. “I told them I’d be willing to take on the occasional student in whatever capacity that would help them.”
Lafayette Jeff’s civic arts graduation pathway will be open in 2024, available first to students in this year’s junior class.
Rinehart said she didn’t have an estimate about how many students might take the new graduation pathway or how many would have done it this year had it been available. She said that more than half of Lafayette Jeff’s enrollment takes courses that would qualify, even if they’re aimed at other graduation pathways.
“This is just one more way,” Rinehart said.
WEST LAFAYETTE PRIMARY DEBATE, MONDAY NIGHT
It’s the only contested race and the only reason for a primary on local May 2 ballots: Four Democrats – James Blanco, Iris O’Donnell Bellisario, David Sanders and Gerald Thomas – are up for three at-large spots on the West Lafayette City Council. At this point, no Republican has filed to be on the November general election ballot for those three seats.
The four are scheduled to debate at 7 p.m. Monday in an event hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette and WLFI-TV18. WLFI will livestream the debate, via this link: www.wlfi.com/livestream/
Early voting starts Tuesday, April 18. Before that, here’s a Based in Lafayette Q&A featuring the four candidates, their bios and a look at where to vote between April 18 and May 2: Primary candidate Q&A: West Lafayette City Council at-large
Thanks, again, to Duke Energy for sponsoring today’s edition. For more about Tree Lafayette’s Arbor Day events, check www.treelafayette.org/arbor-day.
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