Educational Program Summary


This blog is the second in a three-part series summarizing essential materials developed during the Feasibility Study. The series includes:

  1. Creating the Educational Vision
  2. Educational Program Summary
  3. Proposed Spaces within the Future AHS

These materials were developed in response to the following core questions that will guide the design: What is important to AHS? Where is AHS now, and where does it want to go? What spaces does AHS need to fulfill its vision? AHS faculty, district administration and community members have been working over the past year and more to create these materials, which were included in the Preliminary Design Program submitted to the MSBA in April 2018.

The Educational Program

As part of the Feasibility Study, the district has created a comprehensive Educational Program that answers the question “Where is AHS today and where does it want to go?”. This blog summarizes this inclusive document that provides an in-depth explanation of the district’s curriculum goals and vision of the future.  

Desired Adjacencies

The Educational Program informs the building design process to ensure that the final construction will be responsive to current and future teaching and learning programs and practices. A main goal for the newly designed/renovated facility is to improve the layout. Instead of the current sprawling, inefficient design, the new facility will have strategic location of departments, improving interdepartmental collaboration and reducing student travel time between classes. To determine how to accomplish this, the following desired adjacency diagram was created during the visioning process.

English Language Arts

Classes are organized around the concept of discourse: discussion involving students, teachers, writers, readers, critical ideas and significant texts.  

Vision of the future:

  • A Discourse Lab located near the English and History departments to support multiple class presentations, debates, discussions and professional development workshops.  
  • Proximity to the research, literature and technology tools of the Library Learning Commons as well as other Humanities Departments (History and World Languages).


The Mathematics Department offers advanced courses up to AP Calculus BC, as well as a growing range of offerings in Computer Science, CADD (Computer Aided Design and Drafting) and digital fabrication. The department values the importance of analytic thinking, collaboration, problem solving and integration across other disciplines.

Vision of the future:

  • More flexible spaces that support student engagement through collaboration, presentation and exploration of rich tasks.  
  • Closer integration with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) resources and the interdisciplinary Makerspace and Library Learning Commons.

History and Social Studies

Students experience history through interactive, real-life based activities and critical analysis of history that makes connections to today’s society.  

Vision of the future:

  • Integrated technology, work spaces and presentation spaces.
  • Located near the research, literature and technology tools in the Library Learning Commons, and other Humanities departments.
  • A Discourse Lab (shared with English) for debates, speakers, moot courts and large group discourse events.


In addition to traditional courses, the school offers multidisciplinary courses such as Environmental Science, Astronomy, Oceanography and Engineering.   

Vision of the future:  

  • Larger, more efficiently laid out classrooms and labs.
  • Connections with the local community, interdisciplinary coursework and projects, increased digital/visual connections and heavier use of modeling scientific systems and applications.
  • Close access to STEAM resources, the computer lab, interdisciplinary Makerspace and Library Learning Commons.

World Languages

Offerings include Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, and Italian. World language learning is increasingly affected by technological advances, allowing learners to collaborate with peers throughout the world.  

Vision of the future:

  • A Language Multimedia Immersion Lab with space, technology and a kitchenette to support presentations, language immersion, testing, gatherings, performances, and productions.  

Physical Education

Courses include general physical education (for Freshman), climbing, winter survival, backpacking, yoga, mindfulness, personal fitness, weight lifting, walking and team sports.  

Vision of the future:

  • Consolidated and improved PE spaces that support the current program and 30 athletic teams.
  • Larger gymnasium that can accommodate 2 simultaneous classes and a jogging track for year-round training activities.
  • Alternative PE space and Fitness Facility.
  • Located near a flexible classroom for Health, CPR and First Aid.

Visual Arts

Fine art courses focus on aesthetics and the creation of art, either through the Visual or Performing Arts Department. Currently, the department offers a broad course selection, including Digital Art, Painting, Sculpture, Mixed Media and Ceramics.  

Vision of the future:

  • Promote integrated studies and connections with other departments (STEAM) neighboring the interdisciplinary Makerspace and Digital Arts Lab (currently shared with CADD).

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts department comprises performance programs and academic studies in music and theater arts. The program creates award-winning ensembles and productions, offering 4 instrumental ensembles (band, orchestra, jazz), 4 choral ensembles, digital music technology, theater and film studies, and multiple music and drama performances.

Vision of the future:

  • Replicate existing types and number of spaces, but with appropriate size, proximities and design.
  • Maintain large auditorium with improved accessibility, fly space, green rooms, and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and projection.
  • Maintain a ‘Little Theater’ for one-act plays, theater classes and production space.
  • Spaces for growing instrumental and choral ensembles with 115 and 80 students respectively.
  • Digital Media Lab and Digital Production Lab to maintain existing programming.

Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS)

The FACS Department offers courses in Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education and Interior & Fashion Design.   The Early Childhood Education program hosts an Arlington Public Schools staff Daycare Program and also works closely with the Menotomy Preschool.

Vision of the future:

  • Expanded hands-on learning experiences through improved adjacencies.
  • Appropriately sized spaces for growing childcare and preschool programs.
  • Programming and partnerships with a student-run cafe, the school store and Food Services.

Special Education

Special Education services address the individual and diverse learning, social and emotional needs of students who require specialized instruction, and/or related services. Extensive programming includes 3 specialized programs (Reach, Compass and Summit), 2 integrated programs ‘suites’ (Millbrook and Workplace) and two academic support inclusion programs (Harbor and Short Stop).   

Vision of the future:  

  • Locate programs near the Library Learning Commons and Nurse with separate exterior entrances for specialized programs.
  • Provide spaces for both centralized and departmental academic support programs.

Library Learning Commons

The current Library Media Center serves many purposes and is a hub of information, literacy, collaboration, projects and technology. The most visited and used space in the building, it is a nexus of many academic programs and is a school, community and district resource.

Vision of the future:  

  • Centralized Library Learning Commons with a student-centered, participatory approach.
  • Large, collaborative/social/creating spaces with varied furniture and seating, quiet spaces, group study rooms, student support services.
  • A ‘Smart Center’ with traditional and emerging fabrication technology accessible to all students.

Additional Needs

In addition to supporting the existing and future academic program, the future school must provide 21st century spaces for:

  • Instructional Technology
  • Cafeteria
  • Extracurricular programs and student leadership
  • Athletics
  • Outdoor learning and social spaces

Menotomy Preschool, the special education LABBB collaborative program, Arlington Community Education, district offices and select Town offices currently housed at AHS will also require spaces within the town and it is yet to be determined which of these spaces would be housed in the future AHS facility.

Updated December 10, 2018

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