South Elgin High academy gets new name, curriculum
South Elgin High School's 11-year-old B.E.A.C.O.N. Academy soon will be known as the Beacon Academy of Media and Digital Arts.
The Elgin Area School District U-46 school board is expected to approve the name change Monday to better reflect shifts in the media industry and the types of careers and postsecondary education for which the academy prepares students, officials said.
The SEHS academy is among five -- one at each U-46 high school -- that offer intensive curriculum through focused, small learning communities to students admitted through an application and selection process based on academic performance.
Founded in 2007, B.E.A.C.O.N. stood for Broadcast, Education and Communication Networks. Instructors believe that name no longer reflects the instructional content, said Kinasha Brown, the district's career and technical education coordinator.
"The new name will better define and align the components of the curriculum to the ever evolving state of the broadcast communication industry," Brown said. "Because of the name, the perception was that students there only studied broadcast and communication. But they are actually focused on the study of the converging components of media production as a whole, and broadcasting is just a small portion of that."
Shifting from an acronym to a clearly titled name also will help colleges and employers more quickly identify the academy's focus, Brown said.
The Beacon academy's curriculum also has been revised to align with the requirements and characteristics of a magnet program offering specialized instruction and programs not available at all schools to all students. There is a four-phase process to transition the Beacon Academy of Media and Digital Arts into a magnet career academy with elements of several phases underway.
Other U-46 academies will undergo similar curriculum revisions over the next several years, officials said.
U-46 plans to offer smaller learning communities to all high schoolers starting with freshmen in 2020. Informational sessions for parents are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at Elgin High School, 1200 Maroon Drive, and June 7 in Room 130 at Bartlett High School, 701 W. Schick Road. The latter session specifically will focus on the planned Government, Public Administration & Safety Academy, including ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps).