The Albany Academy has a rich tradition of producing well-rounded leaders. When our alumni return to our school, they reference the leadership opportunities they had in all facets of student life.
The leadership program is multi-faceted, and includes student government, leadership classes, leadership opportunities within the house system, monthly all-school leadership assemblies, community service opportunities, and specified all-school Community Service Days. Students are given the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom through our many community service programs – both within the school environment and beyond.
Through weekly leadership classes and advising periods, students identify different styles of leadership and explore the difference between leadership and "followership." Recognizing that not all students are comfortable with the traditional opportunities of leadership, we strive to broaden their idea of what it means to be a leader and to help them find new avenues in which to lead.
It is important to give students the responsibility for carrying out academic projects and functions, and then having them stand and deliver through Declamations, honors projects, or a student-led community event. This hands-on process fosters leadership, self-assurance and responsibility. Our aim is to produce students with the necessary skills to be successful leaders in tomorrow’s world.
In 2005, the Academy Battalion was decommissioned; the Albany Academy developed a leadership model to keep the military tradition alive within the school. This student-led organization became the Cadet Corps. This organization serves to provide numerous opportunities for students to practice leadership as they progress through the school and through the Cadet Corps ranks.
In the Cadet Corps, there are three different branches to select from once you join: the Drill Team, Drum Line and Color Guard. Each branch is a highly respected group that gives a student the chance to lead his peers as he progresses through the ranks.
The House System is a leadership structure that involves all students in Kindergarten through Form VI. Students are placed in one of four houses: Olcott, Gates, Henry or Beck. The progressive leadership structure provides for many opportunities to lead and follow through formal and informal group interactions.
The Presidential Cabinet Student members of the Presidential Cabinet include the President, the Vice President, the Treasurer, the Secretary, and the Director of Events. Working with the school’s administration, the Presidential Cabinet oversees the three branches of student leadership: Student Council, House System and Cadet Corps, in addition to leading students in matters of student life. The secondary function of the Cabinet is to facilitate House Competitions, which is done with the assistance of the House Prefects and the Dean of Students. Members of the Cabinet are elected by the student body in Forms II-VI. The election takes place in May of each school year.
Student Council The Student Council is a body of four students, voted into positions through Form-specific elections. One Form Level President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary is elected from Forms III, IV & V for a total of four representatives per Form. These representatives are charged with overseeing their respective classes during bi-weekly class meetings and representing their class ideas to the grade level dean and Dean of Students. The primary function of the Student Council is to address matters of student life, including but not limited to, the Buttery, school policies and procedures in the Student Handbook, fundraising, social functions and graduation.
Students at The Albany Academy have a long history of involvement in community service. They spend countless hours each year working with local nonprofit organizations as part of a curriculum that emphasizes service and the feeling of pride that is gained from selflessly working for the good of the community.
The Academies’ commitment to service is something that can be seen year-round on campus and throughout the community.
The May Project program is an educational experience that gives seniors the opportunity to pursue a variety of professional experiences ranging from work in a research laboratory or museum to recording music to learning about technology development in a gaming company. While the program allows students to explore their interests and ideas, it also allows them to demonstrate the core values that they learned during their years at The Albany Academies: responsibility, self-discipline, compassion, ingenuity, respect, service, integrity and perseverance.
While each student’s project is different, all the experiences grow out of a specific set of principles and guidelines. In early May, the students – instead of going to classes – participate in an internship that pertains to an area of study they intend to pursue in college. The student is expected to find an appropriate placement; however, the school assists with support and contacts for the students.
The Albany Academies’ mission statement is exhibited in countless ways during the school year. One of the most vital examples of the school’s mission in action is the Senior Honors program. In the past 2015-16 school year, nine AAG students and eight AA students participated. These year-long independent projects, where students consulted with an advisor from week to week, demonstrated a broad range of interests and pursuits. They included a “Triptych of the Arts” study in painting, poetry, and design; a photography exhibit on New York City; a presentation of the culture and history surrounding French baking, among other subjects; the composing and writing of an original song; and a presentation of the history of the Academy. Despite the differences among subject areas, they are still bound by a common thread. In academic terms, the projects focus on “active learning” principles, where the student assumes primary responsibility in shaping material and analyzing concepts. Really, though, this program model mimics the way any of us approaches learning in an age where information is readily available and essentially boundless: We follow subjects and ideas that inspire us. As one student phrased it, “This is exactly why I chose the program. Instead of memorizing content and preparing for tests, we took an experiential, engaged approach to subjects that we chose on our own, mostly because of a driving interest to find out more and sometimes even as a path to a future career.”
By Tom Washington, Head Librarian, Albany Academy for Girls