The Block System
In an effort to make our big school feel a bit smaller to our students, to facilitate interaction of students in different grade levels, and to provide students with a comprehensive network of support, we initiated the Block System.
The student population of the College is divided into three distinct units:
- Prep Level (all 8th graders) known as Black Eagles;
- Block Levels (all students in grades 9-11) - in the Block Level students are assigned to one of six blocks: Dulo, Falcons, Flaming Tigers, Golden Lions, Magma, and Tangra. Each block is composed of approximately 88 students with an equal number of boys and girls. Also, there is equal representation from each of the three grade levels: 9, 10, and 11.
- Senior level (all 12th grade students) known as Phoenix.
The blocks participate in a variety of activities which promote school spirit and cooperation.
Advisory System and Support
Much like the block system, the advisory system is used to develop character and personal growth of the student. The advisory system is intended to support students throughout their career at ACS by placing them in smaller grade-level based advisory groups with a faculty advisor, a caring adult who monitors their academic, behavioral, and social development, and provides guidance and advice to their advisees.
Each advisor is assigned to a group of 9-12 students from the same grade level. The groups meet throughout the school year to practice the skills and discuss the values promoted by the mission statement, honor code, and values of the College. The meetings aim at inspiring and encouraging our students to develop and excel as team members, leaders, and respectful and responsible citizens. Each grade level is led by a grade level dean, who supervises the faculty advisors assigned to the level and monitors the academics and discipline within the grade level.
Faculty members of the American College can write a variety of different types of memos: behavioral, academic, and/or academic dishonesty ones. Memos can be written to express concern, warn regarding possible failure, and/or to commend a student. Memos are electronic copies of staff reflections that will be sent to each student, their advisor and grade level dean. Additionally, faculty members can choose to send the message to the student’s parents/guardian, and to the Dean of Students. This feature of the College’s electronic information system is set-up to improve communication between all members of the school community.
The American College of Sofia maintains very high behavioral and academic expectations of our students.
We do our best to provide support systems to help our students meet these expectations and to get the most out of their experience at the College.
Statement of Values
The American College of Sofia learning community consists of teachers, students, administration, staff, and parents. We believe that learning is a cooperative process that involves active participation of all these members. Above all, we value the pursuit of excellence in academics and citizenship. To achieve this excellence, all members of our community must dedicate themselves to the following values:
- RESPONSIBILITY: each member is accountable for his/her actions
- INTEGRITY: each member is guided by honesty and truth in his/her actions
- RESPECT: each member treats all others with consideration
Members of the American College of Sofia learning community are to consider themselves ambassadors of the College’s values of responsibility, integrity, and respect while at school as well as outside the College.
All students must abide by the rules of the College which are outlined in the Student Handbook. These rules fall under four general categories:
- ATTENDANCE: We believe that it is essential for students to be in class and expect all students to make every effort to attend classes. We monitor students’ attendance very closely. Students who are absent from class must follow absence procedures as described in the Student Handbook in order for their absences to be excused. Any student who fails to follow absence protocols or exceeds the attendance limits in a given semester may be receive an Attendance Warning or an Attendance Final Warning.
- ACADEMIC HONESTY: We expect that all students will be responsible for their own academic work and that all work students submit or complete in class is their own. Students must understand the difference between helping other students and cheating. They also must understand what constitutes plagiarism. Students who are in violation of the school’s academic honesty rules may receive an Academic Honesty Warning or an Academic Honesty Final Warning.
- BEHAVIOR: We expect that all ACS students will abide by the behavioral rules of the College. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and weapons are strictly prohibited on campus. Moreover, we expect students to respect each other and the adults in the ACS community. Students who violate the school’s behavior rules may receive a Behavior Warning or a Behavior Final Warning.
- ACADEMICS: We expect all students to apply themselves to their academic work, both in school and at home. We also expect students who are struggling to seek help from their teachers during consultation periods or office hours. A student will be placed on Academic Support if s/he does not meet the following academic requirements:
i. Grade point average (GPA) of 4.50 or above,
ii. No grade of 2.00, and
iii. No more than two grades of 3.00.
Academic Support includes regular reports home to parents about the academic progress of the student in all courses. This support may involve denial of involvement in extra-curricular activities. Reports reviewing the student’s work up to that report’s date will be sent home every two to three weeks.
Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee
Students who are in violation of any of the school’s rules or expectations may be asked to appear before the Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee. The Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee is composed of six teachers elected by the ACS faculty and the three senior administrators of the school: President, Deputy Director, and Dean of Students. In addition, one non-voting student observer is present at the Committee meetings. Parents of students who appear before the Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee may also attend these meetings.
The Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee renders all final warning decisions at the American College. If a student who has received a final warning fails to meet its terms, the Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee may decide to terminate or not renew the student's contract with the College. Decisions of the Dean's Faculty Advisory Committee may be appealed.
The American College of Sofia has developed an extracurricular program that endeavors to create a bridge between the scholastic world of ACS students and life outside campus. The ACS extracurricular program has been designed to strongly support the concept of a holistic education, one which prepares individuals for all aspects of their lives after the College.
The Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) Program was implemented at ACS in 2005 and serves as a model of organizing and encouraging students to participate in various extracurricular activities. The CAS Program provides an avenue for involvement and fosters growth in areas that challenge students to be creative thinkers and actively involved members of the community. Additionally, participation in the CAS Program promotes development of skills and characteristics which may not be directly addressed within academic courses. Through the CAS Program, students develop a strong sense of community and an understanding of how they may positively and effectively impact society.
CAS projects encompass a broad range of activities, and students can join projects according to their interests, be it dance, theater, art, sports, hiking, camping, peer tutoring, community service, etc. Some of the extracurricular activities are organized in the form of clubs which meet regularly after school. Each CAS Project and club has a faculty advisor who supports the students while offering them guidelines for further development.
All ACS students in Grades 9-12 who receive the American Diploma must satisfactorily complete the yearly CAS requirement, which is 75 hours per year, each CAS hour being 40 minutes long. The requirement affords students an opportunity to display long-term commitment to helping others, and demonstrate skill in reflection and self-evaluation.
It is the hope of the American College of Sofia that active participation in CAS will, not only assist to prepare students to meet the most demanding criteria of any university, but also shape dynamic individuals who are fully prepared for success in their adult lives.