The Program Itself
What does it mean that we “meet downtown?”
On Blue Days (“City Days”), BCL students meet at our downtown homebase. Students will spend the full day in the city, and will not report to the BHS campus. Attendance will be taken daily and students will be dismissed from downtown.
What does it mean that it’s a semester program?
BCL runs for one semester at a time. BCL students are part of the program for one semester. The other semester of that year, students will carry a regular schedule of classes at BHS.
What will my schedule look like?
During the BCL semester, students are learning in the city for full-days on Blue Days. On White Days, students are back at BHS. On those White Days, they have one Burlington City & Lake Semester class block, and then fill out their schedule with three additional BHS courses.
Below are two year-long schedules. The first is for a student who participates in BCL in the Fall Semester. The second schedule shows a BCL Spring Semester. Note that there is space for three additional year-long BHS courses.
What credits will I get?
In the 2018-19 school year, Burlington City & Lake Semester will offer five semester (.5) credits: .5 English, .5 Social Studies, and 1.5 General Elective credits. In addition, students can earn up to 1.5 additional semester credits from the other BHS courses that will fill out their schedule.
In the other (non-BCL) semester of the year, students can earn up to 4 semester credits, depending on what classes they take.
How is BCL different?
The Burlington City & Lake Semester is an academic program, but your days with BCL will look and feel quite different from typical school days.
- First, the program is based on experience–real-world, hands-on, place-based learning.
- Second, we are invested in community-building, both within our BCL group and in the city more broadly.
- Third, the projects we will be working on are authentic. Often, they are based on real-world issues that the city is facing, and students’ work will be shared with real audiences.
What will I do in the program?
Imagine…working with ethnographic researchers to map and collect stories from our city’s various neighborhoods and identities and creating a short documentary film to be shared with families moving to the city.
Picture yourself…assisting local scientists as they study our impact on Lake Champlain, and making policy recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.
Imagine…exploring the role art plays in Burlington’s cultural life–together with a professional artist–and then designing and creating an original piece of art for a public setting.
We are also committed to discovery–and fun!
Who are the teachers?
The program has two teachers from BHS: Dov Stucker is a Social Studies Teacher, and Peter McConville is an English teacher.
BCL’s team also includes faculty and staff from the community: Signe Daly is BCL’s Community Partner Lead and Andy Barker is the Project Director. Both will work with students on a variety of projects. In addition, BCL also has dozens of community partners who will be supporting our real-world projects.
How many students are in the Burlington City & Lake Semester ?
The program will have approximately 24 students per semester.
Joining the Program
How do I apply?
Students are able to apply right from the Burlington City & Lake Semester website.
The only requirements for applying are 1.) having the recommendation of a teacher or adult (other than someone in your family) who knows you and your potential, and 2.) your willingness to be an active member of our learning community. BCL requires a high level of student commitment in terms of attendance, engagement, and behavior. Students should be able to demonstrate that they are ready for this kind of experience.
Can I choose which semester I want to be in?
On the Application, students can indicate their preference for the Fall or Spring semester of BCL. A few things are worth noting, however:
- Students who don’t have a semester-preference have a better chance of ensuring that BCL will fit into their year-long schedule. (Scheduling BHS classes is a key factor that the BCL team, and Guidance, will take into consideration.)
- If a scheduling conflict would otherwise prevent a student from participating in BCL (for example, a semester abroad that is already planned)–or there are other significant factors (for example, a semester that is packed full of activities), do let us know.
- We’ll do our best, but not all preferences can be accommodated.
Can I apply with a friend?
YES! We welcome pairs of students to apply together. Here’s how:
- Both of you should fill out your own individual application form.
- Next, you should send an email to both Mr. Stucker and Mr. McConville, indicating that you are “applying together.” Make sure both students’ full names are clearly indicated.
- Finally, you should be sure that at least one of the teachers that you list on your application (teachers who can speak on your behalf) should be a teacher who knows both of you. That way, the teacher can share what they know about each of you, but also what they know about both of you together.
If everything works out, both of you would be enrolled in the same semester, and you would get to have the experience together! (Note that the same scheduling constraints exist when applying with a friend. For more information, read the answer to the FAQ question “Can I choose which semester I want to be in?”).
Is there a cost to participate?
Is Burlington City & Lake Semester For Me?
What’s a typical Burlington City & Lake Semester student like? Who is the program for?
The program is designed for a wide variety of learners. It might be a great fit for someone who…
- learns best in a real-world setting
- wants more of an opportunity to have a voice, and to affect change
- feels ready to take their learning “to the next level,” with integrated projects that use a variety of skills
- likes working collaboratively with both peers and adult professionals
- wants exposure to a variety of possible career paths
- is looking for something for their college transcript that makes them “stand out”
- is ready to “mix it up,” but also to be taken seriously
Overall, BCL is committed to establishing a learning community that is engaged, empowered, and representative of Burlington’s many forms of diversity.
Can I do sports? What about the play?
Yes. BCL “City Days” will end at 3pm each Blue Day. Students will have enough time to return to campus for sports practices or play practice. If there are early-dismissals (e.g., for away games), we will work to ensure you can participate, just as we would if you were at BHS.
I have unique learning needs. Will the Burlington City & Lake Semester work for me?
The program is designed to support the needs of a wide variety of learning styles. You may find that learning in the context of the city increases your engagement, no matter what your learning style!
As a Burlington School District program, BCL also offers the same mandated supports that BHS does. If you have specific questions, we are happy to talk further.
How will this affect college applications, or college acceptance?
We believe BCL will provide students a unique and valuable learning experience that will enrich any students’ college application. Many students feel that the only path to their ideal college is by staying on the traditional track. The reality is that the college applications that often rise to the top of the stack are the ones that stand out–the ones that tell a unique story. To stand out, students need to highlight their uniqueness and depth, and show that they are problem-solvers.
Consider this quote, from the New England Secondary Schools Consortium:
Much of the well-intentioned information offered to students and families suggests a formula for successful college admission. Students are advised to pursue specific courses of study and extracurricular activities. They are told to take Advanced Placement and other challenging coursework as offered at their schools, and to strive for a high grade point average (GPA) and class rank. But it’s a myth that there is only one path to college admission. Colleges have established their admissions offices to evaluate a broad range of applicants [including homeschoolers, international students, and students who have taken gap years]. Many students come to undergraduate life with work, military, and other life experience. All colleges have established systems to evaluate data from many different sorts of students.
In a crowded field, how can you stand out? Andy Lockwood, author of The Incomparable Applicant writes:
Here’s what most competitive colleges want: an ATYPICAL teen. Put it this way: if a college receives 40,000 applications for 5,000 slots, but approximately 10,000 applicants have virtually the same grades and scores……you must answer a big question when you submit your application: Why should they take YOU, compared to all the other kids who look the same on paper? Your task is to show them how you are not the ordinary, “regular” teen.
Regular, typical teens join a bunch of clubs. They are in National Honor Society. (Sorry, this is “typical,” not “special.” Count the number of other inductees some time.) An Atypical Teen starts a club. Or engages in activities that very few of her peers – if any – pursue.