WHS students and faculty make preparations for this years June Academy


Historical fiction and World War II book club share books together outside.

Josh Hanson, Staff Writer

 June Academy (JA) is back this year and will offer WHS students over 50 courses designed to provide the opportunity to spend the last year of school engaged in classes that differ greatly from the typical academic course.

  Students appreciate the chance to end the year with a very different type of learning experience.

  “It’s way better than normal classes, the teachers are knowledgeable, and they’re all creative courses. It’s very fun.” said sophomore Robbie Walmsley.

    Michael Sanford,  technology integration specialist, and Lana Paone, a special education teacher, have taken over coordinating June Academy this year, and have helped teachers develop classes they hope will prove interesting to students.

   The primary criteria for a JA course is to  “be a course that teachers are passionate about teaching and that are curriculum areas that you wouldn’t typically find in a high school day,” said Paone.

   The student ratio in June Academy ensures that if  a course gets less than 5 people, it won’t be run. The largest courses will allow around 60 people. This enables the program to improve every year as the courses that students aren’t largely interested in are rethought. Students also complete a course survey at the end of the JA time period to help teachers adjust their classes for future years.

   Some JA classes require financial outlay to purchase materials or for travel and admission fees.  While students sometimes have to pay to participate in some opportunities, many classes’ expenses are covered by the school.

   “We have a June Academy budget from the school district that pays for [many expenses]. Since the budget doesn’t quite cover the cost of the field trips, the students pay for admissions fees,” said Paone. “If you sign up to go to Plymouth Plantation, you’re going to pay an admission fee. We’re paying for the bus to get you there, and then students will pay admissions.” 

  While students might assume teachers would propose JA courses related to the disciplines they teach, that is not always the case. .For example, WHS English teacher Kathyrn Harnish is offering a dog training class, 

   “It’s titled dog training but it’s going to be a little more comprehensive than that because one of the really important things you have to understand when you’re training dogs, cats and any animal is their behavior,” said Harnish.

  Harnish also hopes to educate students on proper training practices.

   “We’ll learn about the ethical ways to train dogs. There are no regulations in America on who can call themselves a dog trainer. There are a lot of things on TV and in the media that would not be considered ethical or could make people lose a certification under certain councils,” said Harnish.

     Another course run by an unexpected teacher is the Running Club. It is run by art teachers Catherine Ciccolo and Matthew Barber. The course is all about physical activity and will incorporate body weight exercising and weight training, how to warm up and stretch to prevent injury, and of course how to run.

   Students at Weston High School are the driving force for all JA courses,

   “I enjoy June Academy classes because they can help me learn a new skill, get to know more teachers, and are a fun way to end the school year,” said Spencer Winchman, a sophomore at WHS.