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BCHS Lab School moves into second generation

Filed in Archive by on February 25, 2020

Now in its 27th year, the Lab School at Bethlehem Central High School has provided a unique academic experience to hundreds of district students. And since last school year, among those hundreds of students are two generations of one family.

Jill Dugas Hughes, a 1997 graduate of Bethlehem Central High School, counts Lab School as one of two educational experiences that shaped her life. She recalls Lab School as a caring community with teachers dedicated to seeing students grow. She’s now seeing that experience through the eyes of a parent, with two children – Nia, a 10th grader, and Aidan, a 9th grader – in Lab School.

Hughes is the first graduate to have children in Lab School. When Nia said she was interested in Lab School, Hughes was excited and now sees Nia coming into her own as a result of the education. And when it came time for Aidan to attend high school, she asked him to consider Lab School since she thought it would be a good fit for him.

“It’s a welcoming community,” says Hughes. “It doesn’t matter where you fit in. In Lab School, you fit in. There’s a place for everyone in this world and you have a voice. You can find your voice.”

The Lab School provides a rigorous academic experience that includes challenging coursework, research projects and presentations, workshops, internships, educational trips, and other opportunities for learning in a small-school setting. Coordinator David Lendrum states, “The skills taught in Lab School focus on a traditional course taught with hands-on learning, which produces students with the skills needed for today’s job market. Lab School students are great, confident public speakers and practiced writers due to the four years of research class in Lab School.”

Students in Lab School are encouraged to participate in fundraisers organized to offset the expense of the educational trips. Students attend two retreats each year, one at the YMCA’s Camp Chingachgook and one at the Silver Bay YMCA, and students are highly encouraged to participate in a multi-day spring trip. This year, the trip is to Boston and Salem, Mass. In previous years, the trip was to Colonial Williamsburg and Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Lendrum states, “The fundraising that students do, especially the BBQ, make the trips accessible to all students, no matter their financial status.”

The annual Brooks BBQ held in March is the lab school’s largest fundraiser. Proceeds support educational programs and provide financial support for students to attend the retreats and trips.

This year’s Brooks BBQ will be on Saturday, March 7, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. There is the option to take out or eat in. The menu includes the following: chicken dinner, $13; chicken only, $9; rib dinner, $14; and vegetarian lasagna, $11. Pre-orders will be taken up to March 3 by calling 518-218-6799 or sending an email to Walk-ins are welcome.

In addition, there will be silent auction items, raffles, and a bake sale.

Teachers affiliated with the Lab School expanded efforts to increase awareness of the opportunity for high school students this year. In December, a brochure highlighting the Lab School experience was sent to the homes of all 8th graders registered within the district to educate them about the Lab School opportunity available to them in 9th grade.