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Inside Amistad - Early to Rise
Amistad Academy Students

At Amistad, the school day begins at 7:30 AM, and students don't go home until 5:00 PM. That means the students put in nearly the equivalent of an ordinary school day — two hours on reading, an hour on writing, and an hour on math — all before lunch, leaving the afternoon hours for additional classwork and more than an hour of music, sports, arts, and computer science programs.

This schedule demands a degree of commitment not often found in middle schools, and its success depends on building a sense of community that reinforces that commitment. Students and teachers begin the Amistad day with the Morning Circle — a combination pep rally, town hall meeting, and organizational session, and, perhaps most importantly, at the beginning of each day it's made clear to the students that they are part of a community that recognizes their achievements.

Students put in nearly the equivalent of an ordinary school day—all before lunch

Making sure Amistad students are enthusiastic while they're in class is only part of the solution, since once they return home, their workday continues. Every evening, they're expected to do a significant amount of homework and additional reading — and that means getting parents involved regularly.

While the contract obligates parents to sign off on homework assignments and to put in a certain number of volunteer hours, it may well be the sheer amount of time spent on individual student instruction that cements parental support for the school's programs. As teacher Kendall Petri points out, " a regular school environment, you would only interact with a child about seven hours a day. We interact with these children about ten hours a day. And in many cases, much more. As a result we get to know the parents and the entire family much more intimately than we would in a typical situation."

The extended day translates into more than just increased class time. For its students, teachers, and even parents, Amistad Academy is not so much a school, as a way of life.

Students and parents discuss the impact of the intense schedule.

Students and parents discuss the impact of the intense schedule

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