Ardenne High's sixth form aiming for global relevance
This year's 2015 CAPE results are in and Ardenne's principal Nadine Molloy is happy with the impressive results. They have attained 100 per cent passes in 15 subject areas and an overall pass rate of 97 per cent, up from 94 per cent at the 11-acre Hope Road institution.
But Molloy is not long distracted by this new round of success as she and her key support staff members are steadfastly focused on a more ambitious mission. Her team is undertaking a radical transformation of the sixth-form experience offered at Ardenne.
Beginning this September, a new template will come on stream, designed to make the two-year experience more cutting-edge, creative, technology-adaptive, and relevant to a wider range of new millennium demands from the job market, as well as to foster and cement a spirit of self-reliance and entrepreneurship among graduates.
Leaders and creators
Apart from excelling academically, the new sixth formers will be groomed to become leaders and creators of jobs and generators of opportunities for growth. Junior achievement activities will be accelerated and they will be made as real-world and as interactive as possible. The existing Community Service Programme will be revamped to place a greater emphasis on volunteerism, where students will be urged to give back to their communities through humanitarian efforts.
"We're looking down the line at the future demands from tertiary institutions and from the job market; the days of showing up with just distinctions in a number of subjects are numbered," Marie Lewis, one of two sixth-form co-ordinators told The Gleaner.
Ardenne High, the current Schools' Challenge Quiz champions and the only school outside of North America to have won the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy, will immediately expand its sixth-form curriculum to include a number of non-traditional core subjects: digital media, environmental sciences, agricultural science, entrepre-neurship, performing arts, and law.
And participation in the school's Distinguished Lecture Series is required of sixth formers, where national icons and industry leaders are invited to address and engage the students in hot-button topics and issues.
Additionally, a number of enhancements will come on stream shortly. Modern, well-equipped science laboratories designed for CAPE studies are already in place. The second floor of the E.M. Claire Gayle Library is now totally outfitted with computers and facilities to accommodate sixth formers using their own devices.
A dedicated fibre-optic lightning-fast Internet service will be available across the Ardenne campus by December 2015, and next year will see the introduction of the 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) programme to fully embrace current trends in e-learning. A digital media lab will also become available in September for the use of sixth formers.
The availability of a grid of co-curricular activities will also form part of the new sixth-form template, and these activities sometimes help to determine career choices that students make, while providing the opportunity for them to be multitalented. In this programme, locals come to the school to work with students on developing a number of skills, and students are sent out to work on local, regional, and international community projects.
Important life skills such as speed-reading training, social etiquette, networking, budgeting, nutrition, public speaking, driving, self-defence, and event planning are all part of the available options at Ardenne's sixth form.
"Recruiters are searching for well-rounded, emotionally intelligent, self-confident and interpersonally skilled candidates, and our co-curricular activities help us in a big way to deliver first-class graduates to the world," said Carrol Myers, outgoing co-curricular coordinator at the institution.
And what about costs and availability for the rebranded Ardenne sixth-form experience?
"Very few students from other schools are able to get into Ardenne's sixth form as the acceptance process is very competitive," Molloy pointed out. "However, we do have a tradition of accepting students migrating into Kingston from non-sixth-form, and occasionally, from sixth-form schools," she added.
Ardenne's sixth form is not exactly a cheap date, but the school says it offers a first-class product at a reasonable price.
"Bearing in mind the cost of maintaining labs for science and technology-based subjects, equipment, an outstanding teaching staff, part-time specialists, gym, performing arts block, field trips, a safe environment, and a bundle of other essential amenities, we think we're an excellent, superlative choice," Lewis, sixth-form coordinator said.
"And our biggest asset is our highly qualified, extraordinarily committed and passionate staff, who has been empowered to deliver the best educational experience to our students," she added proudly.
Esmin Davis-Spence, community service coordinator and head of the Business and Technology Department, added her voice.
"Our focus at Ardenne is on the training and development of a holistic and productive citizen who has been exposed to the diverse social challenges in the Jamaican society, who has empathy for the young, elderly and differently abled, who has respect for the sustainability of the environment, who is globally competitive, and who can take their place as a leader on any platform, locally or internationally."