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Brighton Heritage Academy prepped to welcome influx of freshmen from Brighton H.S.

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — Brighton High School staff are working diligently to make sure freshmen have a smooth transition to the high school’s new northern campus. Although nearly 80 percent of the incoming freshman class will be making the trek to Brighton Heritage Academy this fall, Principal John Biner said they have been working to ensure freshman students feel like they’re a part of the Brighton High School experience.

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Biner said teachers at Brighton High School North, as the campus has affectionately been nicknamed, are working to make it feel like a small community, but that students are going to be involved in everything that goes on at the main building. 

“Every time we have assemblies and get-togethers and class meetings and all of those things, those kids will be front and center in all those things,” he said. “We’ll plan our schedules so that they have time and capacity to attend everything that they need to at the big building because part of it, being freshmen at a high school, is you need to experience more than just what’s over there at Brighton Heritage.”

  According to Biner, students were selected to attend BHA based on their schedules. They will be attending BHA to take some of their core classes such as math, science, English, social studies and possibly health, which is an elective. Honors classes will also be held on the campus. 

About five or six of the high school’s veteran teachers will be instructing the freshmen, and Biner believes they will make it a very warm and welcoming environment for the students. With the exception of the health teacher, their classrooms will be located on the campus throughout the day and won’t have to make the walk.

Biner said it takes about four minutes to walk from BHS to the school’s northern campus. He said where the kids will struggle to get from class to class is if they have a class that’s at the south end of the building and have to make the trek.

“We’ve tried not to give those kids that commute,” he said. “When we did their schedule, most of the kids that do need to make the commute would make it from the northern part of the building so it’s a reasonable walk to get to the next class,” he said.

Biner said they didn’t want students to travel back and forth more than once and arranged schedules so students would take multiple classes while they’re on the BHA campus. 

While on campus, Biner said there will be no interactions between the BHS freshmen and BHA students and that the set-up of the building allows them to run two separate programs

“Brighton Heritage Academy actually functions on the upper floor and they enter from the northwest part of the building, and Brighton High School will enter from the southeast part of the building and we only use the east hallway, so there’s really no physical interaction between the two programs,” he said, adding that they plan to install a separate bell system within the lower part of the building so they can keep on schedule. 

One place the two programs may interact is with administrative support, as Principal Cyndra Foster’s secretary may be helping with some logistics work, according to Biner. He said BHS has a dean of students who will be responsible for all of the students there and will be making the commute between schools to handle things such as discipline.

  The district has decided to utilize BHA to help offset the overcrowding happening at the high school. He said having classrooms at BHA will free up more classrooms for teachers in BHS and that closing opening enrollment will help create additional space for a few more students in the district. Counting the incoming freshman, Biner said they anticipate nearly 1900 students will be attending the high school fall and that they’re going to continue to get more and more kids.

He said the growth has been challenging from a management perspective, but noted that it’s not the first time the district has had to use BHA to deal with overcrowding. The district had to utilize BHA in 2004 for health sciences Biner said there are members of the community who probably remember that. He said the district is utilizing the space that’s available to the best of their ability, which is something he thinks is important to the community.

“I just think it speaks to the need for additional space and additional facilities,” he said. “And I think it really speaks to the fact that people want to live in Brighton and this is a community that is going to continue to grow like crazy, so we’ve just got to start planning for this.”