Israel Arts and Science Academy
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The Israel Arts and Science Academy (IASA) is a national, residential high school for Israeli students. It opened its doors in September 1990, and was founded by Mary Jane and Robert H. Asher and the late Raphi Amram. IASA was the first high school in the west which combined studies in science, music, humanities and art.
The school's students are immigrants and native-born religious and secular Jews and Israeli Arabs (Muslim, Christian and Druze. They come from over 100 communities across Israel. The student body numbers approximately 300, including day students from Jerusalem, in addition to residential students.
IASA students are accepted without regard for their financial ability; 70% receive scholarship assistance. Admission is based solely on merit. Tuition is discussed only after the student is accepted. Scholarship assistance, if required, is then arranged.
IASA's goals are excellence, leadership and community service. Pluralism and mutual respect are natural outcomes of living in the IASA community.
95 percent of graduates go on to perform military service. Of the more than 1,000 graduates who have had enough time since graduating to do so, approximately 25% have earned PhDs.
Talpiot is the most exclusive program of the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Annually, Talpiot accepts only 50 of approximately 100,000 high school graduates. They must serve for nine years. Talpiot has been responsible for most of the innovations Israel has developed for use by the IDF. Despite the small size of IASA, more Talpiot members are graduates of the Academy than any other school.
Sh’nat Sherut is a voluntary year of public service which graduates of Israeli high schools may undertake in addition to their army service. Nationally, 2.8% of high school graduates volunteer for this program. This past year,[when?] with permission granted by appropriate army offices, 42% of IASA graduates volunteered for Sh’nat Sherut. This is a result of IASA's unique Crown Community Service Program. Every student provides community service every Tuesday afternoon during the three years at IASA.
Students may major in either natural sciences, music, visual arts, or humanities, though they study most subjects (those which are not related to their area of interest) in mixed classes. The science students choose one main subject, such as physics, chemistry, or biology, and they must also learn computer science and/or another subject.
IASA's Music Department was shaped by the visions of three educators: Israeli composer and ethnomusicologist Andre Hajdu (student of Zoltán Kodály, Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud), composer and educator Michael Wolpe, and teacher of ear-training Bat Sheva Rubinstein. The Music Department has produced a generation of young Israeli musicians.
The studies in the Art Department consist of painting, sculpting, photography, and video art classes. Students also study the history of modern art and classic art. In their second year, students write their own academic paper about any art topic they choose. In their third year, students work on their final practical exhibit.
The Humanities Department was opened in the 2007–2008 school year. It was opened in a partial experimental format in 2006-2007. The students learn by the "Great books" curriculum, which emphasizes reading primary sources, group discussions, commentary, analysis and academic writing. The department's "Unique Program" includes several courses arranged in a chrono-historical order, from Ancient Greece to the Modern Era. Each course has a different dominant discipline, but the program is interdisciplinary in its nature. The students submit during every course several academic papers. Besides this program, the students must fulfill three other requirements:
- Study of a second foreign language: Besides the mandatory English studies in Israel's school system, The Department's students are obliged to learn Arabic, French or Latin. Students with a background knowledge of another language may learn it instead.
- Enhanced studies of two subjects: The student may choose from History, Bible, Literature, Jewish thought and Philosophy. A student who wishes to study an exact science may do so within the Science Department's "secondary science" studies.
- Writing a final dissertation: The students write a thesis in any field of knowledge of the humanities. Dissertations are held to a high academic standard, and are written under the instruction of M.A.s and PhD.s from academic institutes and from the school's staff. Students often participate and win in competitions for remarkable dissertations held by the Ministry of Education and other research institutes.
Saying that following Israel's actions in Gaza, "courageous civic activism" had become necessary, dozens of IASA graduates published a letter in December 2014 calling on Israelis to refuse serving in the IDF, become conscientious objectors and stop what they view as oppression of Palestinians. Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman protested the letter, saying, "The signers of the letter are using the name of the school to gain media attention, and this is a terrible act".
- "Yarden Skop 'Graduates of elite Jerusalem high school call for draft refusal'" (28 December 2014) Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.634184