Frequently asked questions
Q: What will the impact on traffic be?
A: As a part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, a traffic study was conducted by a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE). The study determined that certain internal traffic improvements would improve traffic flow in and around the Shaker High School/future Shaker Middle School campus.
- Creation of a separate bus run for the middle school (offset by 45-60 minutes) to reduce peak traffic flows
- Campus improvements
- A third entry lane into the high school
- Extending student drop off lanes at the high school and middle school
- Dedicating separate bus and student drop-offs at the middle school
- Gated cross-connections between the middle and high school
Q: How do areas such as idea labs and innovation centers align with elementary students’ developmental needs?
A: Elementary students are naturally curious, and these types of spaces will allow teachers to capitalize on this curiosity. Young children have a need to ask questions, test their own theories, and tinker with ideas. Idea labs and innovation centers provide opportunities for hands-on problem solving and inquiry based learning. Not only do these spaces encourage students to test and revise their thinking, but they have an ability to reach various types of learners and foster a highly inclusive environment. The intentional design of this physical space in an elementary school is a huge opportunity for teachers to let students know how much we value their thinking.
-Southgate Principal Jerri Lynne Dedrick & Latham Ridge Principal Aaron Thiell
Q: How will updated media centers differ from libraries of old?
A: Our libraries are no longer simply “shush and stamp” rooms with books. A renovated library media center at the elementary level would offer lower shelving for ease of access to print materials and comfortable, flexible seating that invites students to get lost in a story, creating a warm, welcoming, and student-focused environment. An expanded library would also increase opportunities for collaboration between librarians and teachers, allowing for meaningful integration of inquiry and information literacy skills within the context of the classroom curriculum. All curricular areas, as well as special areas such as art, music, and foreign language, would have improved access to librarian expertise, library resources, and space. Student ideas that grow out of inquiry projects can come to life in a makerspace, which could be housed in the attached Idea Lab containing a 3D printer, codable Sphero Robots, or whatever educational innovation comes next. These tools, in combination with the informational resources of the library, will empower students to bring their ideas to life.
-Elementary Lead Librarian Annie Gersztoff
Q: How can the hall system support the sixth grade students academically as well as socially and emotionally?
A: Students are part of a smaller learning community. Instead of being one student in a school of 1,500, they are one student in a hall of 300, and one student in a grade block of 100. This is very helpful in developing peer relationships. Teachers assigned to each hall get to know the students in the hall, not just the ones in their classes.
- Content, including concepts, skills, and their sequential development, is better aligned in the three grade structure. The sixth grade teachers would be part of our current department structure which supports and requires this alignment of content. The transition from sixth to seventh grade will be seamless in each subject area.
- There are several opportunities for acceleration for those students who demonstrate the interest and ability.
- Support programs are coordinated for students who need additional assistance from grade six through grade eight.
- Sixth grade students will be able to participate in extra-curricular clubs and activities with their seventh and eighth grade peers, assisting with each student’s social development.
- Students and families will develop relationships with one guidance counselor and one Hall Principal which is crucial for students and families to feel connected to the school.
- Sixth grade students of today are facing social pressures that in years past were not experienced until seventh or eighth grade. The junior high is well structured to provide the support needed to students to cope with these pressures. Having three years to work with a counselor assists in this development of coping strategies.
-Shaker Junior High Principal Dr. Russ Moore and Shaker Junior High Hall Principals Dawn Lange & Jan Zadoorian
Q: How could newly designed 21st century instructional spaces enhance the quality of programs and the opportunities for students?
- The North Colonie Music program has seen huge increases in student enrollment – a 66% increase in the last ten years for the SHS chorus and orchestra. Our rehearsal rooms were built for a program that no longer exists.
- An expansion of the music instructional spaces at all levels is needed to guarantee not only student safety, but to further the instruction of this award-winning music program.
- Used daily by students and the community, the SHS auditorium is one of the smallest in the Suburban Council, a poor match for one of the strongest music programs in our region.
- Listening is a foundational skill in music education. Musicians must be able to hear the smallest variations in pitch, dynamics and balance. Properly-designed acoustical environments for learning music will actually increase a child’s ability to learn in that space.
-Deborah Keough, Music Department Supervisor
- Art & Design courses will benefit from spaces that incorporate zones for various applications, allowing for flexibility of curriculum objectives being addressed, and collaborative critical analysis of work produced. Features of a 21st century art room include areas for multiple functions and applications in a range of areas: film, video, graphic media design, studio 2D and 3D design, fashion, illustration.
- Art & Design involves regular collaboration and creative problem solving approaches that will be greatly enhanced by the new spaces, which are designed to inspire young learners. We emphasize process over product and a growth mindset to learning. A new design of the learning spaces will allow for a wide range of individual, pair and group work applications.
–Anne Manzella, Art Department Supervisor
A: Career and Technical Education (CTE)
21st century careers and the 21st century students are very different from those of fifty years ago when Shaker High School was first built. 21st century students want to be engaged, challenged and learn from their experiences. Students want to work on real life problems and make an impact on society. Research tells us today’s students learn best by collaborating and doing, not by sitting in rows. New classrooms and labs will provide the extra space and technology needed for students to work collaboratively. In the new CTE rooms, students will apply knowledge to design, create, build and test solutions. Individuals and groups will present these solutions to get feedback for a possible redesign. Students who experience this circular system of design, test, analysis and redesign will be well prepared for the demands of 21st century careers after graduating from Shaker High School.
-Eric Phillips, Supervisor, Career and Technical Education
The single most important enhancement to our science programs would be the opportunity for students to complete laboratory work and hands on activities in real time, inside their regular classroom instructional spaces. This is important for several reasons:
- Students would no longer need to wait until their lab rotation for important lab opportunities
- Teachers would have the creative flexibility to incorporate more hands-on laboratories/activities into their daily instruction
- Students would always have the same teacher and therefore all instruction would be congruent
In addition to the above improvements, the new spaces also offer:
- Outstanding flexibility and the ability to be easily adapted to suit various teaching and learning styles
- A close proximity to math spaces to allow for better integration and communication between the two disciplines
- A larger size and more storage space for science equipment with better proximity to one another, allowing for easier sharing of materials/supplies
-Keith Bogert, Science Department Supervisor
A: Health, Physical education, & Athletics
- Physical education and wellness activities are very different today and incorporate much more than just the traditional team sport participation. Our students are learning about and preparing lifelong wellness plans as a graduation project in the areas of Health, PE and Athletics.
- New 21st century instructional spaces will benefit the students, student-athletes, faculty, staff and community by providing instructional areas that will better meet the need of sustaining lifelong fitness.
- The new teaching labs for PE classes will provide opportunities for fitness and wellness classes such as Dance, Aerobics, Yoga, Pilates and Zumba while at the same time providing new areas to expand our current offerings to faculty & staff during the day and to our community members through continuing education.
- The synthetic turf fields will increase our teaching stations for both Physical education and athletics by a significant amount. We will utilize the synthetic fields for PE classes 8 periods per day and divide up the field into three teaching stations per period. This will provide students at both SJHS and SHS the opportunity to extend and enhance physical activity time on safe and quality teaching stations.
- The synthetic field will also help us to accommodate one of the largest interscholastic athletic programs in our section and at the same time increase some opportunities for community groups to utilize the facility.
-Ed Dopp, Director of Health, Physical Education & Athletics, and Dave Stadtlander, K-12 Health Education & Secondary Physical Education Supervisor
Q: What considerations have been taken regarding the safety of synthetic turf?
A: Synthetic turf is known to have a safety benefit with respect to concussions and ground impacts. The district is awaiting the results of a federal Environmental Protection Agency study of turf infill products. Previously, the NYS Education Department has independently studied synthetic turf and found no reason to discredit the safety of these fields. Depending on the outcome of the EPA report, alternate infill materials will be considered by the district.
Q: How can a renovated Shaker High School contribute to students’ preparation for a globalized 21st century future?
A: The world has changed greatly in the nearly 58 years that Shaker High School has been open, and the digital world outside of schools has certainly exploded just in the last decade. A renovated, technologically ubiquitous Shaker High School will not only be engaging for both students and teachers, but will be efficient and easy to access and use for the entire community. After nearly 60 years, the building will be in a better position to support the needed learning environment of the future, as instruction and programs evolve while the number of students increases. The entire school facility will be more conducive for student learning, moving instruction and student opportunities beyond traditional classrooms. The newly renovated facility will allow us to more fully address all of the 21st Century skills ranging from communication to collaboration and creative problem solving necessary for our students to thrive in a complex, globally competitive world.
-North Colonie Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Skeals and Shaker High School Principal Richard Murphy