By Jennifer Speer
In the halls of Chaminade, the bell rings and the halls fill with the sounds of laughter and learning. Bright faces and futures flow through the school, much as they did 60 years ago when the school began. And beyond their dedication to academic excellence and sports, they have one of the most fantastic performing arts programs I’ve ever seen. They’ve also recently added an invaluable technological program using tablet PC’s that, because of their instant interaction capabilities, surpass iPad programs currently used in many schools. The students in all grades receive tablets. Chaminade is grades 6-12, and they have a seamless seven year, student-centered curriculum.
Chaminade is intent on creating a learning environment enhanced by state-of-the-art technology that is reflective of the way students learn today. Combined with a program called DyKnow, they are able to define their own academic goals, make independent decisions about their work habits, and evaluate their progress. DyKnow is linked to an online tool called Blackboard, which allows instant access to all of the resources posted by the teacher, such as the syllabus, assignments, rubrics, calendars, links, PowerPoints, and videos, and can conduct real-time polls that reflects students’ responses to a question the teacher has just asked. As well, the students can save all of their work to an archive that allows them to review their entire history of learning.
At Chaminade, they integrate technology into the learning environment because they recognized early on that there is no better way to engage the students of today’s world than by meeting them on their own playing field, and it is obvious by the success of the school that the program has been extremely beneficial to its students and their progress.
Another dynamic element here is the performing arts program. Too often these days, art programs are vanishing across the nation, devalued in education — the power of its influence and the way it enhances our overall ability to learn and come up with creative solutions, forgotten. However, at Chaminade they embrace the arts with a fervor rarely seen. It was a true pleasure to read the reviews from their recent production of Fiddler on the Roof performed in their new theatre. The students found the experience to be of a professional-level quality, and absolutely critical to their growth and involvement in the arts.
The new performing arts center boasts a 365-seat theatre and the stage has 46 lines for backdrops, curtains, lights, etc., and an integrated lighting and sound system that make it a tech student’s dream. Backstage there is a scene-building workshop, storage rooms for props and costumes, as well as dressing rooms and office space. Drama, dance, band, and choral each have their own classroom with acoustic treatments, and the dance room features a sprung, slip-resistant floor.
With its new incredible home for the performing arts on campus, and its dedication to modern applications of technology, Chaminade demonstrates the high priority it places on creativity in learning.
Chaminade College Preparatory is a coeducational Catholic school in the Marianist tradition, with a mission to form morally aware and academically capable people to be outstanding contributors to the future. Founded in 1952, Chaminade operates a middle school campus in Chatsworth, and a high school campus in West Hills. For more information please visit chaminade.org.