Curriculum Print E-mail

LACS offers some interesting and unique classes and has some untraditional graduation requirements.

Each year students in grades 6 through 12 select their educational program from five broad areas:

  1. Courses meeting four times per week in conventional and interdisciplinary extended-block class sessions. Students “elect” their courses from an array of offerings in consultation with an advisor. Courses meet New York State guidelines
    for academic requirements and are taught with input from students about what they want to learn within the courses.
  2. Extended projects meeting twice per week in extended time blocks designed to facilitate learning experiences needing more time such as physical education, recreation activities, art and technology projects, community studies, mock trial,
    and drama productions.
  3. Independent studies focusing on a particular student-proposed/teacher supported self-guided area of study.
  4. Community studies including career explorations, apprenticeships, internships, and community service (LACS graduation requirement).
  5. Additional study at other education facilities including Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and Ithaca High School. Since LACS is a small school, students requiring highly specialized or Advanced Placement courses may attend these other facilities as part of their integrated LACS program.

Graduation by Exhibition:

LACS does not depend on report cards or letter grades, but rather written evaluations (see "Evaluations" below). These are part of LACS's new system of Graduation By Exhibition (GBE) in which students are required to fulfill a variety of "essentials" to meet graduation requirements. In other words, students must demonstrate proficiency, through written, oral, or otherwise documented work. Increasingly, colleges are looking for such portfolios and evaluations for an honest measure of what a student can do.


Evaluations are an essential part of LACS acedemics.

Rather than letter grades, students receive narrative evaluations for each course. Second and fourth cycles (each cycle is a quarter of the school year), the evaluation for each class is a page long, allowing both the teachers and students to write their evaluation of the student's work. First and third cycles, all the evaluations are on one long page, with space just for the teachers to write (no self-evaluation by students). Among other things addressed in evaluations are: participation in discussions, preparedness for class, quality of work, how many pieces of work were turned in and whether they were on time, consideration of others, and how well the student works in small groups. Not every evaluation addresses all of this, and some evaluations have other stuff, but that should give you a good idea.

School Governance:

Students at LACS are an integral part of running the school.

Students are involved in each change in the school. Once a week, the entire school gathers into our gym to discuss student and staff proposals. At the end of the meetings, everyone votes on the proposals. This allows both students and staff a say in each decision, and allows both groups to draft proposals for acceptance by the school. Each All School Meeting (ASM) is led by a small group of students and follows a modified version of Robert's Rules of Order. Any student may at (almost) any time speak out on an issue before the entire school, and we quickly learn to speak out in public.

Twice each week during "committee time", students will meet to enhance LACS in various ways. Each committee is open to any student, and all pupils are encouraged to try out several different aspects of running the school. Examples of committees are: Yearbook, Curriculum, Green Thumb, Gay Straight Alliance, and Cafe.

Family Groups:

Family groups are essential in building a cohesive school community.

Family groups aren't really school government, but they do form an integral part of LACS. What are family groups? Consider them a combination of homeroom, support group, guidance office, and fundraising. Each family group is like a little family of 12-16 students plus 2 staff members. They meet twice a week to check in about what's up, help each other out, hear announcements, keep track of schedules and graduation requirements, bond, and make plans for raising money for Spring Trips.


Projects allow students to pursue extra studies outside of their regular classes.

Project time is yet another way we do "alternative learning." The idea is that not all skills are things you learn by sitting in a classroom day in and day out, and there are plenty of fun things to do that regular schools don't give students (and staff!) time for. All Thursday morning and all Tuesday afternoon, students can choose from a list of things such as silkscreening and indoor soccer that we otherwise wouldn't have time for. It can also be used as a resource time, for math help or science help, or for portfolio completion.

Spring Trips:

Trips give students a hands-on opportunity for learning.

Spring Trips are another part of the LACS curriculum designed to take learning outside of the classroom. They teach organization, budgeting, working in a team, and offer a chance to interact with people outside of the school environment. At the beginning of fourth cycle, students choose a trip to go on. The usual project times (Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning) are combined into an entire day, Thursday, so trips have the opportunity to meet, plan, and prepare all that day throughout fourth cycle. Many groups have to do additional fundraising for trips.

One week in late May, the school is essentially deserted while everyone goes out and canoes, hikes, bikes, rock climbs, acts, or takes a trip to Assateague, New York City, or a Native American reservation . . . every year there are different options.

More information:


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2012 )
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