GRAEL gets a facelift

Exciting new features, field trips and fun are being added to the GRAEL Academy.

“What is an academy?” you very well may ask. Well, academies allow for students of similar interests and strengths to be grouped together into tightly-knit small learning communities.

Jo Sutton of the Digital Art and Design Academy describes them as “a way to make school cooler and more interesting to kids.”

There are three academies at Castro Valley High: DADA for the more art-focused, HABIT for the medical-minded, and GRAEL for those who intend to pursue a career in social justice.

GRAEL – short for the Global Rights, Activism, Education and Law – is already a “pretty legit” academy, but it’s about to become even cooler.

For example, beginning this year, the academy began accepting freshmen, whereas in the past only upperclassmen could be members.

“We wanted to build momentum,” explained Sutton. “If they start their first year here in GRAEL, they might be more encouraged continue with it, and it would build community within the academy.”

Also, starting in the spring, the different class grades of GRAEL are going to be having great times on their class’s corresponding field trips.

While sophomores have already gone to the Museum of African Diaspora, the juniors are eagerly anticipating their trip to Angel Island, the seniors are anxious to go to Alcatraz, and the freshmen are waiting their turn to visit the famed “Precita Eyes” murals of the Mission District.

The last event foreshadows a cool thing happening to our campus beginning next spring: the addition of new, modern murals emphasizing “education, activism, social justice, speaking up, and the idea that we are the 99 percent,” said Sutton fervently.

Senior GRAEL students specifically have a lot to look forward to in the form of internships pertaining to the students’ occupation of interest.

These internship opportunities have already been written up and approved by the district, and would count as class credit for a quarter. The students would be expected to enter into such internships on their own time and check in with their supervising teacher periodically.

Another exciting upcoming component to the academy is the introduction of a new group called Youth Speaks, an organization that helps young people express themselves through poetry.

Not just any poetry though, corrects Sutton, but “poetry about struggle. Poetry that calls people to action. The kind of poetry that gives a voice to people who don’t usually feel comfortable having a voice on campus.”

Sutton teasingly forewarns, “Expect to see some mad poetry reading on the courtyard one of these days!”

With all of these new additions and more, GRAEL students have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

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