Details emerge on Bridge Academy school day

HUDSON–Parents asked about lunch, gym and transportation for Bridge Academy students at an introductory meeting January 16.

The Bridge Academy is scheduled to open February 3 with two high school programs: one special education, one alternate general education. The general education part—known as the Alternative Transition Program (ATP)—is for 16 and 17-year-olds who have fallen at least four credits short of the number of credits graduation-bound students of their age should have already amassed. Twenty-five Hudson students and 20 students from Catskill are eligible for the ATP, and the Bridge Academy will take students from both districts.

Bridge Academy classes will take place in 360 Warren Street in Hudson. Its principal will be Thomas Gavin, former principal of Hudson High School. Its teachers and support staff will come from the Berkshire Union Free School District, a state sponsored special school district in the Town of Canaan.

About 10 people, mostly women, attended the January 16 meeting held at Hudson High School. The meeting began with talks by Hudson City District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier, Berkshire Union Superintendent Bruce Potter, Day Program Coordinator Dan Kalbfliesh, and teachers who plan to be on the Bridge faculty. Thes teachers included Elizabeth Bremer (math), Donna Lewis (science), Richard Shea (social studies) and Michael Spruck (English).

Ms. Suttmeier explained how the Bridge Academy fits into the district’s Destination Graduation program to increase graduation rates. The object is to “offer multiple paths to graduation,” so more students can find a path suitable for themselves. “Some students do well in a traditional setting. Others need a smaller setting.”

“Other districts have been knocking on our door, asking to participate,” said Ms. Suttmeier.

“We’re going to be part of the educational reform that everybody’s talking about,” said Mr. Potter. “At the end of the day, it’s about creating an environment that is welcoming, where the students want to be.”

When asked about lunchtime, Ms. Suttmeier replied that the school was a “closed campus.” Every day the Hudson High School kitchen will send over lunches, and students will have a choice of hot and cold food. Maybe the Bridge will sometimes have special lunches, such as from Truck Pizza, practically across the street.

Asked about physical education, Mr. Potter answered that the program would have “adaptive physical education” using “simulated activity.” This would include students acting the motions of games like tennis, playing against a computer video screen with a sensor. He has found many students reluctant to change clothes in front of their peers, and with adaptive physical education, they will not need to do so. He noted that such set ups have resulted in more students participating willingly in physical education.

In addition, Ms. Suttmeier said, sometimes Bridge students could use a youth center gym.

On transportation, officials said busses will take students to the Warren Street building from Hudson High School in the morning and from Bridge back to the High School in the afternoon. Hudson students would come to the High School the way they do now. However, those who live within walking distance of 360 Warren may walk to and from school.

Ms. Suttmeier suggested that students who now drive to the High School should park there and take the bus to 360 Warren Street.

The Bridge will follow the Hudson District calendar. Snow days, delayed openings and early dismissals will occur as they do for the Hudson City School District, even if they occur differently for the Catskill District.

A typical Bridge school day will run from 8 a.m. until 2:20 p.m. Ms. Suttmeier noted that the afternoon bus from 360 Warren Street will get to the High School in time for students to participate in sports, other extra-curricular activities and for after school half-credit classes. Earning credits from both Bridge and after-school classes will bring students closer to graduation.

 

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