Monday, November 10, 2008

Ohrenberger school preview - Nov. 7

I really meant to post this Sunday, but a thermostat issue meant that we were living by candlelight and lantern for a while.

Until I visited the Ohrenberger, I didn’t really understand how the whole Ohrenberger/Beethoven K-8 thing would work. Now I get it. My son won’t be eligible to attend the Ohrenberger until he’s in the third grade. Still, I don’t feel like this visit was time wasted. I got a feel for this school, and now I know I need to check out the Beethoven since younger kids from there will feed into the Ohrenberger when they get older. So here’s the breakdown:
  • 2009-10 - Ohrenberger will become K2-6. Their K1 teachers will likely move over to the Beethoven.
  • 2010-11 - They’ll be grades 1-7.
  • 2011-12 - Grades 2-8.
  • 2012-13 - Grades 3-8. And that is expected to be the final configuration.

For those who haven’t seen it, the Ohrenberger is a sprawling campus, almost like a high school. It’s nestled right next to Stony Brook Reservation. One parent told me that another parent occasionally led nature hikes into the park. It feels quite isolated. I wonder how many students can actually live within the walk zone. It’s .7 miles just from the school to Washington Street.

There’s a baseball field out front, as well as some new playground structures. There are currently 450 students and they expect to grow up to 700. It feels like a newer school, although I’m not sure when it was built. I'm also not sure who uses the baseball field, although they do have a community center attached to the school. (I had to bring my son along again, so my notes are definitely not complete.)

We were greeted at the door by students in the Advanced Work program. They served as great ambassadors to the school. They were all very well spoken and were eager to share their school. They brought us up to the library on the second floor. The library is huge and well lit. I think my son and I could have spent hours in there, especially since they plied us with doughnuts, muffins, and juice.

From there, we began our tour of the school. We went into one of the two K1 classrooms. My son made himself at home, joining another boy in the Legos area. It looked similar to the other kindergarten classrooms I’ve visited.

Students usually have the following classes weekly: art, science (2nd-5th grade), computers, gym, and music. We visited the art and music classrooms, as well as the gym. To me, it’s nice to see a place that is big enough for a gym for those winter days when outdoor recess is inhumane.

K1 and K2 have their own on-site after school programs and they hope to continue that. Overall, almost 200 students participate in the after-school programs.

It sounds like they have the same instrumental music program as the Mozart. Students in grades 3-5 can learn the trumpet, flute, clarinet, or violin. In third grade, students rotate through the instruments. In fourth, they choose an instrument. As the school expands to the eighth grade, they hope to continue musical instruction.

They have an informal uniform policy, and a full-time nurse on-site. They also have an outdoor classroom with benches.

Students can test into the Advanced Work program in the third grade. The Advanced Work students keep a blog and can learn Spanish.

They mentioned partnerships with many other groups, including Sports4Kids, City Year, Urban Improv, and Very Special Arts.

This was another school I really liked. I might not have looked closely at Beethoven before this. Now, it’s on my must-see list.

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