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News & Media

Current Status of School of Rhetoric (SOR) Proposal

Posted on by Classical School

Three Classical representatives of the SOR Expansion Committee – Nancy Fischer, Anne Tretinyak and Kristin Killian – attended a March 12th meeting with the Appleton Area School District (AASD) Programs and Services Committee to present the SOR proposal as an Item of Information. The next step is bringing the proposal forward as an Item of Consideration subject to a YES or NO Vote by the Programs and Services Committee. If approved, the proposal would then go to the full Board of Education for a final vote. To educate the AASD Committee members in attendance, Nancy, Anne, and Kristin presented a PowerPoint summary of:

– the Mission and Philosophy of Classical education
– the History and Current Status of the existing K-8 Classical School
– the Classical School of Rhetoric Proposal
– preliminary details of the Academic Roadmap and Staffing Patterns of the proposed SOR

In addition, they presented a DRAFT copy of the Curriculum guide for the proposed School of Rhetoric. This had been assembled through a compilation of the best practices and cultural elements of several existing public Classical High Schools throughout the nation as well as with editorial assistance from Dr. Christopher Perrin, CEO and publisher at Classical Academic Press. A 30-minute segment of a videotaped Q & A with SOR committee members and Dr. Perrin was also presented to highlight the liberal arts and great books background that would make the SOR a unique educational opportunity in the Appleton area.

The response by the Programs and Services Committee was lukewarm at best. The prevailing attitude was that the proposed SOR did not offer educational opportunities that differed from the liberal arts programs at the three existing Appleton public high schools. When asked by SOR committee members for next steps, the Programs and Services Committee suggested three follow-up items:

1. Conduct a survey of Classical School graduates, currently in 9th-12th grades, gauging their interest in attending the proposed SOR

2. Compare the proposed SOR 4-Year curriculum guide with the current Appleton-area High School Common Core curriculum

3. Create a list of options and/or singularly-offered “classically-based classes” that would supplant a stand-alone SOR educational program

Next Steps

As a follow-up to the March 12th meeting, the SOR Expansion Committee met on Monday, March 16th, to develop a response to the suggested next steps. SOR Committee members present at that meeting recommended the following:

1. A survey of Classical School graduates, currently in 9th-12th grades, gauging their interest in attending the proposed SOR

There does not seem to be value in soliciting the opinion of students who would not know the merits of a classical high school program since one does not currently exist in the area. The SOR Expansion Committee believed it would be more pertinent to ask these students questions regarding their experiences at Classical School and preparation for high school.

A cross-section of Classical graduates and their families will be contacted for their feedback. Anonymous responses will be published as part of our SOR Expansion Committee minutes.

2. A cross-comparison of the proposed SOR 4-Year Course Guide with the current Appleton-area High School Common Core Standards Guide

We look forward to receiving feedback from the AASD curriculum development team.  That being said, the CCSA Board is solely responsible for all decisions regarding the development and implementation of curriculum at Classical School. The SOR would be an expansion of our existing program and oversight would extend to our newly established school.

3. A Listing of Options, including singularly-offered “classically-based classes”, that would supplant a stand-alone SOR educational program

The SOR Expansion Committee did identify a spectrum of options (outlined on the following page). The winner on the spectrum was to stick with our original plan to establish a SOR within an existing high school within the district.

The SOR committee discussed adding Rhetoric and Latin to the local public high school course offerings. They were not confident singularly-offered classes would be attractive or beneficial to students separate and apart from a fully classical high school curriculum.

At the recommendation of the SOR Expansion Committee, the CCSA Board and Classical School administration are currently working to have the SOR Proposal added to the AASD Programs and Services Committee April 30th meeting agenda as an Item of Consideration. The question remains, “To what extent will AASD support the Classical School community?”

Anne Tretinyak & Kristin Killian
School of Rhetoric Expansion Committee

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