Schools Superintendent: District Needs Alternative Program ‘With an Identity’ to Keep Students in New Canaan

When Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan last week, a significant portion of the discussion focused on whether the former Outback building behind Town Hall would be a suitable location for the program. Other factors deemed equally—if not more—important were also addressed, including the short- and long-term effects of the program on the educational and emotional wellbeing of New Canaan’s students. Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program that would replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instruction Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide flexible academic instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs. Over the past year, Luizzi and Pianka have been visiting both public and private alternative programs for teens throughout Fairfield County—some of which have accepted New Canaan students into its programs— and they shared a few of their observations with the subcommittee.

‘The Ball Is in Your Court’: New Canaan High School Seniors Begin Internships

Starting May 16, scores of New Canaan High School seniors have flooded local businesses and organizations in New Canaan and throughout Fairfield County to teach kindergarten, shuck oysters, plant onions and otherwise gain what for many has been first-time, first-hand real world work experience. The Senior Internship Program is seeing 269 students participating this year—that’s 83 percent of the senior class and a 23 percent increase from 2016. The program offers a wide range of internships, from law offices and local government to nature and environmental science agencies. NCHS Senior Internship Coordinator Heather Bianco said she believes the program helps students learn concepts that cannot be taught in a traditional school environment. “I think the [the program] not only provides a hands-on learning experience for students that they can’t get from school, but also helps them decide on their career path,” Bianco said.