Coginchaug Regional High School has always prided itself on adapting to student learning and providing the best opportunities and experiences to further understanding. The school has introduced new ways for students to gain a better education than ever before. At the core of this effort is the high school’s principal, Brian Falcone. Mr. Falcone has been with the district for several years now, and the community has seen some worthy changes. One of the highlights this year is the senior experiences that allows students to apply their learning outside the classroom.

Mr. Falcone made it a priority from when he first started to set up a career center and senior learning experience. He explained, “Students are leaving our school and getting to job shadow” the first half of the year, and the “same group of students will be taking the personal finance class” the second half of the year. Seniors who do not elect this path have other options that range from interests in business, teaching, civics and unifying the school campus.

In regards to school policy changes, Mr. Falcone emphasized that nothing has changed besides the senior experiences and arranging times for them to leave school and participate in their various job shadows or other learning opportunities.

When asked about anything specific he would like to see this school year, Mr. Falcone said, “I want people to get involved; I want people to enjoy their high school experience and do good things for our school and our community.”

There are a lot of opportunities for students, and he thinks it would be beneficial for students to take advantage of what is offered. When asked if the high school offers more now that he is the principal, Mr. Falcone said, “I think we just offer different opportunities for students,” and there are more options available based on student interests. Examples of this include the school musical occuring every year instead of every other year and more clubs such as Book Club or the Outdoor Education Club.

Having established a structured senior experience, Mr. Falcone explained the school’s next goal down the road. The superintendent, the chairman of the Board of Education, Mrs. Kate Germond as the teacher representative, and Mr. Falcone will travel to China this December to meet with school officials in an effort to initiate a partnership. He hopes “to partner with a school in China where we can take a number of their students over here to experience what it’s like to live [in] and be a part of our culture.” Eventually, he added, Coginchaug students will have the same opportunity to experience culture in China. Motivation behind this plan comes from wanting to expose students to different cultures and experience the world. The overall goal, as Mr. Falcone made clear, is exposing students to life outside of Durham and Middlefield to gain a strong learning experience through a unique international partnership.

Continuing the trend of learning opportunities, Mr. Falcone provided some insightful comments for what the future environment for students will be like.

“We’re trying to shift from textbook learning… to more real life experiences, taking the skills you learned and utilizing them to complete a project or task.”

In this way, he thinks that students will be more engaged in their own learning by giving them opportunities to choose ways they can demonstrate understanding of concepts taught in school. The high school is already applying this modern technique in its classrooms with the senior experiences as a prime example. Students are able to pursue an interest of their choice, educate themselves further and apply their knowledge to the real world. Mr. Falcone also addressed the state’s new requirements for graduating seniors, taking place in 2023, commenting that these opportunities for students to apply their learning throughout the community is a step in preparing upcoming seniors for the community service component of the eventual state requirements.

Obviously there is a natural focus on seniors and the new opportunities they have, but when asked about any advice for freshmen, Mr. Falcone encouraged them to “get involved in as many things as you can, be a part of our school community and work hard.”

Learning these days is very different than even 10 years ago, and it is an ever-changing process, so he recommends students take early advantage of what will help them in getting the best education possible and make the most out of new opportunities.

To end the interview, Mr. Falcone provided seniors with some wise advice. As they graduate later this school year and move onto college and the real world, he thinks it is important for students to find their passion, work hard for their goals, and pursue a career in which they will be happy: “Our hope is not only to be a four-year high school; our hope is that we can help you find and set that path for yourself after you leave here.”

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