Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2010)|
Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, or SASA, is a small public high school and middle school for developmentally advanced children in Saginaw, Michigan. From its founding in the early 1980s until 1999, it was known as the Center for the Arts & Sciences (CAS). During this period, it was a half-day school utilizing a concentration, or major, program to allow students to focus on specialized areas of study, while spending the other half of the day at their home school. In 1999, the name was changed, and SASA became a full day school, allowing students to take other required classes in addition to their concentration. As of the 2009-10 school year the enrollment is nearing 700 full and half day students. The current principal of SASA is Jon Vanston.
SASA's concentration program is rather unique. Middle school concentration programs include Theatre, Global Studies/Language Arts, Voice/Keyboard, 2-D Art, 3-D Art, Dance, Math/Science. High school concentrations include Global Studies, Math/Science, Language Arts, Voice/Keyboard, 2-D Art, 3-D Art, Dance, and Theatre.
The Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy is located in a building that originally housed a Montgomery Ward department store. In the early 1980s, the Saginaw public school district acquired the building and announced plans to convert it into a half-day specialized high-school and middle-school program for advanced students called the Center for the Arts & Sciences. At the time the announcement was made to the local press, district spokesman Michael Manley recalled that discarded mannequins still filled the building. New dividing walls were constructed to create classrooms, although the fact that the building was originally a department store is still somewhat apparent due to the lack of windows and the styrofoam faux-pillars that adorn the exterior.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the CAS shared its building with the Ruben Daniels Center for Lifelong Education, an adult and alternative high school also run by the Saginaw School district. The CAS met with surprising success, and began drawing students from throughout the Saginaw-valley area, including Saginaw, Bay, and Midland counties.
In the late 1990s, a committee of students, parents, and teachers began a campaign to expand the school to include a full-day option. This committee took on the name "The River School Project", owing to the school's location on the banks of the Saginaw River near downtown Saginaw. Although the committee met with much doubt and resistance, support gradually built, and after several meetings the Saginaw School Board eventually unanimously approved plans to expand the school and change the name to the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy. In 1999, full-day programs were added for the 9th and 10th grade, with the 11th grade following in 2000, and the 12th grade in 2001. The school initially had far fewer full-day students than half-day, but since the early days of the full-day program, full-time enrollment has greatly expanded.
The Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy was recently renovated. It has received three new full science labs, an atrium, gymnasium, and a new performing arts center. These additions were opened at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
SASA students have repeatedly performed well in standardized tests, art, sciences, math, vocal music, dance, writing and much more. SASA typically has a handful of students represented at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair every year, and the school has produced two grand award winners, as well as dozens of students who have placed at ISEF. In the 2001 Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, & Science TEAMS engineering competition, SASA's team scored highest nationally. The school has well-regarded math competition teams, and participation in certain competitions such as the American Mathematics Contest and the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition is mandatory for all students in the Math/Science concentration. The SASA band program, as well as its chamber ensemble are also well known for their conductor, Matthew Corrigan, a graduate of the SASA instrumental music program. The school's Model United Nations club is very active and has an award-winning history: several student delegates annually receive accolades at various conferences in the great lakes region. The school's arts programs are especially well-designed and developed and usually send an impressive delegation to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, and several of the school's visual artists and language arts students have won national art competitions such as The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers' Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Finally, the school publishes an annual literary magazine, ICONS, which is edited and run entirely by students. Icons has won numerous awards of excellence from Columbia Scholastic Press.
SASA is also the site of the Saginaw County Middle School Science and Engineering Fair.
The SASA student body is extremely diverse. The students range from lower income families to higher income families, and the students come from all different races,religions,ethnics, and languages. SASA draws students from both the East and West sides of Saginaw city (traditionally the province of Saginaw High School and Arthur Hill High School, respectively), as well as outlying suburbs, and the cities of Bay City and Midland to name only a few.
The school's athletics programs are limited in scope, but have grown in recent years to affiliate with the Inter-State Athletic Conference/ISAC for varsity boys and girls sports in basketball and soccer and girls volleyball. For some major sports ( including American football, and baseball ), students may elect to attend SASA for the half-day program and play on their home school's team. SASA has experienced recent athletic success, with the Girls Cross Country team qualifying for the MHSAA Division 4 State Finals in their first year, 2010, as well as in 2011. Also, the Track and Field team has seen both girls and boys individually qualify for the 2012 MHSAA Outdoor Championships in the program's second season.
There are friendly rivalries between some of the concentration programs (Math/Science and Language Arts/Global Studies in particular), and students are known to have heated discussions about politics and contemporary issues, which the school encourages through its many cross-curricular activities. The school also has a "Living Arts" program, where various artists and intellectuals are invited to address the student body as a whole.During the winter holiday season, the school had a Winter Holidays Around the World (WHATW) festival, during which small student groups research the customs of a particular country, and set up a booth showcasing seasonal holidays and traditions of that country. Students are known to particularly enjoy the many regional foods that are made for the festival.