Charlestown High Corner: Lots to Offer at One of the Few Open Enrollment High Schools

By Adam Calus

One of the few open-enrollment high schools remaining in the district, Charlestown High School serves 925 students from across the city of Boston, with about 120 students who live in the Charlestown neighborhood. Under the leadership of Principal William Thomas, the school has come a long way in the last five years and has a range of opportunities to offer Boston Public School students who decide to go there. Every day a team of creative, dedicated innovative teachers and administrators works hard to create critical thinkers and bold leaders. Some of the amazing things happening at the school right now include:

  • Pathways Program: In partnership with Bunker Hill Community College, Charlestown High School offers two distinct pathways for students: Information Technology and Business. Through the combination of rigorous coursework, career exploration, and real-world experience, the Pathways Program is designed to prepare students for success in high school, college, and careers in these specific industries where there are lucrative jobs.

Starting in 9th grade, students explore topics and careers. In 10th grade, students enroll at Bunker Hill and begin earning college credits, taking only one course at first, and then taking additional classes, in English and Math as well, at Bunker Hill in 11th and 12th grade. Credit earned can be used towards an industry-recognized degree or transferred to many other colleges and universities after the student has graduated high school. Over the course of the program, students can earn up to 30 college credits from Bunker Hill, all free of charge.

The C-Town Pathways Program builds a connection between high school, college, and careers, and empowers students to feel ownership over their futures.  Courses are designed to be project-based, providing hands-on experiences, which teach the necessary skills to prepare students for success in high school, college, and beyond.

  • Debate Team: The school’s Debate Team has been going strong for more than ten years. As a part of the Boston Debate League, the Team currently has 75 students–the largest in the city of Boston. Students devote hours after school to practice and prepare for tournaments where they argue productively and effectively about current events, political questions, and philosophy. The Debate Team is always looking for volunteers to judge!
  • Performing Arts: In the last four years, the high school has expanded its elective course offerings to now include the four primary disciplines in performing arts: instrumental music, choral music, dance, and theater. Unlike other programs in Boston which mostly focus on wind and brass instruments, the CHS instrumental music program includes a modern band made up of guitars, basses, keyboards, and drum sets. In addition, there is Drumline that performs at school pep rallies, parades, and more! The choral program helps students to find their voice, with different classes during the school day and then a Select Choir that meets after school. The theater and dance classes allow students to express themselves on the stage. This year, the CHS Student Drama Guild performed for the first time at a city-wide youth theater festival, receiving some rave reviews for their contemporary rendering of Antigone.

Along with the Career Pathways Program, the Debate Team, and the Performing Arts, there is a great variety of other opportunities at the school, including a robust Athletics Department, Advanced Placement courses, and unique programming for students with disabilities. The school continues to grow and has worked more in recent years to become involved with the Charlestown neighborhood community by, among other things, participating in the Charlestown Pride Week activities and forming the Friends of Charlestown organization, which is composed of community members who support the school’s work.

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