Today’s Birthday: Gabby Douglas

It's December 31, the last day of the year, and gymnast Gabby Douglas turns 17 years old today.  Gabby burst on the scene at the London Olympics, where she won gold medals in the individual and team all-around competitions.  Those gold medals allowed her to have one of the best years of any athlete, male or female.  On New Year's Eve, many people look back at the accomplishments of the past year.  For us at the American School, 2012 was a year of many accomplishments, but in particular our online learning initiatives took major steps forward.  This blog and our Facebook page have kept you up-to-date on our latest online courses and new online exams in paper-based courses, and we have bigger plans for 2013.  Be sure to add our Online Learning page to your favorites and visit that page often so that you'll be the first to know about them.  A happy and safe new year to all, and we'll have our first blog of 2013 on Wednesday.

Today’s Anniversary: Galileo (Sort Of) Discovers Neptune

It's December 28, and 400 years ago today, Galileo saw the planet Neptune in the sky for the first time.  Before we give Galileo too much credit, though, we have to point out that he was mistaken when he identified Neptune as a giant star instead of a planet.  Neptune wouldn't be discovered formally until 1846 when Urbain Le Verrier (or maybe John Couch Adams or Johann Galle) saw it and correctly identified it as a planet.  For years, Neptune was the eighth of nine planets in our solar system, but when Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet, Neptune became the farthest planet from the sun.  Just how far from the sun is Neptune?  How about 4.5 billion kilometers.  That's so far that it takes Neptune 165 years to make one complete orbit around the sun.  Contrast that to Earth, which takes 365 days (or, in 2012, 366 days) to complete its orbit.  We're coming to the end of one of Earth's cycles around the sun, and at this time of the year, people look back on the past year and set goals or make resolutions for the upcoming year.  If earning your high school diploma was one of your goals for 2012, you have four days to enroll and get started.  Perhaps you'll make your education a resolution for 2013.  Either way, the American School will have out-of-this-world courses waiting for you when you become our student

Essential Math Errata Sheets Added to Online Student Center

The American School strives for 100% accuracy in its courses and exams, but sometimes there is the need to publish errata sheets to notify students of important changes.  Such is the case with Exam 6 in Essential Math 1 and Exam 2 in Essential Math 2.  Errata sheets for each of these courses will soon be added to the Help Sheets page in the Online Student Center.  Please visit the Online Student Center and read the errata sheets before taking your exams.  If you are scheduled to receive these courses in the future, these errata sheets will be included with your study materials.  Thank you for your understanding. 

Today’s Birthday: Louis Pasteur

It's December 27, and scientist Louis Pasteur was born on this date in 1822.  Every time you drink a glass of milk, you can do so safely because of a process invented by Pasteur.  That process is known as pasteurization, but it was far from his only contribution to science.  He also developed the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax and is considered one of the founders of microbiology.  Pasteur was also a professor of chemistry and physics, so he'd certainly be qualified to teach any of our science courses.  That's because, like Pasteur, many of our instructors have advanced degrees in the subjects they teach.  Indeed, all of our instructors have at least 24 hours of college credit in the subjects they teach, and all of them call students by name and write personalized comments on every exam they grade.  It's another example of our caring student service and one reason why more than three million students worldwide have chosen to earn their accredited high school diplomas with our help.

Today’s Special Occasion: Boxing Day

It's December 26, and countries all around the world are observing Boxing Day.  No one knows for sure how Boxing Day got its name, but one theory is that, on the day after Christmas, people would give boxes of gifts to needy service workers in their towns.  Over time, like many other holidays, Boxing Day turned commercial.  It's one of the biggest shopping days of the year in countries like Canada, Great Britain and Australia, and, even in the United States, today is a big shopping day because many people return Christmas gifts.  Over the weekend, several people took the first step to obtaining something they'll never return–their accredited high school diplomas.  They enrolled with the American School and soon will receive their first courses.  By Boxing Day 2016 or sooner, they should have their diplomas in hand and have the skills to join the workforce or attend the college or university of their choice.  You can still make the holiday season one to remember by enrolling today! 

Today’s Special Occasions: First Day of Winter/End of the World?

It's December 21, and today is the first day of winter.  If you read yesterday's blog, you know that the American School was preparing for winter weather this morning.  That turned out to be a false alarm, and we are maintaining normal business hours today.  Many people look forward to snow days that come during the winter months, but they can interfere with your studies if you attend a traditional school.  After you enroll and become an American School student, you won't get any snow days, but that's ok.  All of our students, regardless of weather or location, work entirely at their own pace, a pace that best suits them.  You won't have to worry about falling behind after you become our student.  This year, December 21 has taken on extra significance because, according to the Mayan calendar, today is the end of the world.  Whether you believe that or not, today's entry is going to be the end of the blog for awhile, but just until next week.  We'll be back on Wednesday, December 26, with the latest news from the American School.   

American School Prepares for Winter Weather

Tomorrow is the first day of winter, and just in time, snow is forecast in the Chicago area tonight and into tomorrow morning.  We're not anticipating closing the School tomorrow, but if we do, and if the School is ever closed or has shortened hours because of weather, we will notify you in two ways.  First, there will be a message if you call our main phone number.  Second, there will be a message on our Facebook page.  If you haven't checked out our Facebook page lately, now is the perfect time, not only to receive winter weather updates, but also to enjoy all of the relevant content we post each day.

American School Releases Updated Fundamentals of Electricity Course

This blog has posted a lot about the American School's foray into online courses and online exams in paper-based courses, but our Curriculum department continues to improve our existing paper-based courses.  One of them, Fundamentals of Electricity, was just updated this past week and the new version is now available to students.  Earlier this week you read about our history and the types of courses we've offered to students over the years.  We're proud to offer such a wide variety of courses, including courses like Fundamentals of Electricity.  Having trade and vocational courses in our curriculum ensures that all of our students are well-prepared to go into the workforce or attend college after graduation, and we look forward to having these types of courses in our curriculum for years to come. 

American School Announces Holiday Schedule

It's December 18, and on this date in 1892, The Nutcracker ballet was performed for the first time.  For many families, seeing The Nutcracker is an annual tradition and a reminder that the holidays are getting near.  In 2012, the American School will observe the following holiday schedule: 

On Thursday, December 20, we will close at noon. 

On Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25, we will be closed all day.

On Monday, December 31, we will close at noon.

On Tuesday, January 1, we will be closed all day.

All of us at the American School wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and the very best in 2013!

American School Celebrates 115th Anniversary

It's December 17, and on this date in 1897, the American School received a charter from the state of Massachusetts as an "educational institution not for profit."  115 years later, that same charter still guides us.  Ever since the day R.T. Miller founded the American School in Boston, the American School has been governed not by owners or by stockholders but by corporation members who have a great interest in the School, its students and the advancement of education.  That's not to say that nothing has changed in the past 115 years.  In fact, plenty has changed, starting with the School's location.  We were only in Boston for five years before moving to Chicago in 1902 to partner with the Armour Institute of Technology, which today is called the Illinois Institute of Technology.  When that five-year partnership ended in 1907, the School built its own headquarters in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.  We remained at that location until we moved to our current location in Lansing, Illinois, in 1996.  One of the many highlights of our time in Hyde Park was the development of the Benton Harbor Plan in 1922.  The principal of Benton Harbor High School in Benton Harbor, Michigan approached us with the idea of using our courses to expand existing course offerings at his high school.  Thus, our Independent Study program, which today serves thousands of high schools across the country, was born.  In 1938, the American School awarded its first post-secondary scholarship to a deserving graduate, and in the 74 years that have followed, we've awarded nearly $800,000 in scholarships to our graduates.  The American School continued to prosper in the decades that followed, and the 1970s brought further recognition.  In 1974, the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges accredited the American School, making us the first private home study high school to earn accreditation by a regional accrediting body.  Today we are accredited by NCA-CASI, an accreditiation division of AdvancED, an organization dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide.  In 1978, the Illinois State Board of Education recognized us as a private secondary school, and we still hold this recognition today.  Perhaps the biggest change in the past 115 years, though, has been our curriculum.  Early courses included such subjects as Machine Shop Practice and Animal Husbandry and were done entirely on paper.  Today's subjects included more than 70 unique courses, with a variety of electives, and courses are delivered on paper and online.  As you can see, the American School has adapted to the times, and as we enter 2013, we are poised to add to the American School's excellent educational legacy.