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Winter Break Becomes Spring

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Jan. 2: Students return from winter recess.

Jan. 12: The school celebrates the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15) by listening to students and teachers read some of his speeches at a Friday town meeting.

Jan. 19: The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association approves City on a Hill's application to participate in interscholastic sports competition, one of two charters in the state accepted so far.

Jan. 19: City on a Hill mourns the death of former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan, the first black elected to the House from Texas since Reconstruction. At a town meeting, they listen to her celebrated keynote speech from the Democrats' national convention in 1976.

Week of Jan. 29: The first semester ends with a flurry of final exams, papers, and projects.

Jan. 31: Individuals who will be supervising students at their intersession internships visit the school to help prepare them through role-playing scenarios.

That same day, an article spotlighting City on a Hill appears in The New York Times. All day, the school phone rings as people call with requests for information, speaking invitations for Principal Sarah Kass, financial contributions, and offers to volunteer.

Early February: Recruitment for next year's freshman class begins. Ms. Kass gives her sales pitch at five public junior high schools throughout the city, often taking students along to share their views.

Prospective students must return an application and attend one of seven information sessions intended to give them a flavor of what the school and the academic workload are like.

As of late last week, 125 students were vying for 30 slots in next year's freshman class, and sign-ups were continuing. Because the school is oversubscribed, a lottery will be held on April 15.

Feb. 5: Intersession begins. Students in good academic standing begin full-time internships. Those who are struggling spend mornings in extra-help sessions or making up incomplete work, and afternoons at part-time internships. Those who have demonstrated effort--as measured by a formula that takes into account class participation, attendance and punctuality, and completed homework assignments--are given a chance to raise their grades.

Feb. 13 and 15: Students come to school with their parents and family members in the evenings to pick up their first-semester grades and to meet with their teachers.

Feb. 13: The boys' basketball team plays its first game. The team loses, but teachers and students are excited to see the school's first sports team in action.

Feb. 14: A town meeting--a daily feature during intersession--kicks off with students and teachers reading poems by Emily Dickinson and W.H. Auden about love and a passage from Bill Moyers' book The Power of Myth.

At a recruiting visit to Roxbury Middle School, Ms. Kass and a student, Naemmah Fuller, hold a mock town meeting and field questions from curious 8th graders for nearly two hours.

Feb. 16: The final day of intersession. Students give presentations at a town meeting about what they learned from their internships and hold a party with their teachers and internship supervisors to celebrate their accomplishments.

Feb. 19-23: Semester break.

Feb. 26: The students return to City on a Hill for the second semester.

March 14: Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld, Lt. Gov. Argeo Paul Cellucci, and Michael F. Sentance, the governor's secretary of education, hold a news conference at City on a Hill to announce that the state has approved three new charter schools.

It is also announced that six groups have received conditional approval--but that they can only open schools if the legislature lifts the 25-school cap on the number of charters that can be opened statewide. Currently, 2,600 students are enrolled in the state's existing charter schools; 1,800 remain on waiting lists.

March 20: The first issue of the student newspaper, COH Weekly News, makes its debut. A story on Gov. Weld's visit is featured.

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