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Overview Alternative Education

Northtowns Academy is an alternative setting that provides students new beginnings and second chances.  Northtowns Academy focuses on the whole student: allowing every opportunity to achieve goals, ensuring a brighter future, and building productive members of society. 

Each program provides teachers, certified in a core content area, who have experience working with an at-risk population.  

  • Alternative High School (Grades 9-12)  
  • Teen Parenting
  • Out of School Suspension Program (Grades 7-12)
  • Opportunities for Career and Technical Education

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Club Period Proves Popular at Alternative School

Photo of Student Painting“Join the club” is a popular idiom these days, and many Erie 1 BOCES Northtowns Academy students have been doing just that.

“Students are welcome to join after-school activities at their home school,” said Justin DeMartin, director of Exceptional Education for Erie 1 BOCES, “however many teens feel connected with Northtowns. We wanted to give students the opportunity to celebrate that identity through a club period.”

Northtowns instituted the club period concept following a visit to Evertech, a Broome-Tioga BOCES alternative education program, by DeMartin and two staff members. 

“This is our first year implementing the program," said Northtowns Principal Lorenda Chisolm. “The clubs meet for 30 minutes and run opposite of student lunch periods. Students select their activity club and have the option to switch every five weeks.”

Current club offerings are in art, film, gaming, music, science and sports. Early results show they’re becoming a popular option with students and teachers alike.

“I don’t have one kid that isn’t working,” noted art teacher Nancy Amico. “When they don’t have work to catch up on, it’s a good alternative to study hall.”

Alyssa Kelleher, an art club member who came to Northtowns from Ben Franklin Middle School in the Ken-Ton School District, agrees wholeheartedly. 

“I love art. I love the fact that I can express myself, and it’s very calming to me. I do portraits and zentangles,” said Kelleher. Zentangles, the art of crafting images by drawing structured patterns, is one of many techniques covered in Amico’s class.

Science teacher Joseph Meyer began a science club this year, and says his students have already gained some practical experience. He has hopes that the science club will continue to grow as the word gets out. Amico agrees, stressing how student choice has fueled the enthusiasm.

“I’m guiding them, but they determine their own project,” said Amico. “Kids are inspiring other kids.”

About Northtowns Academy
Northtowns Academy, operated by Erie 1 BOCES, is an alternative instructional building that provides students with new beginnings and second chances. Northtowns Academy offers small class sizes and additional supports that focus on the whole student: allowing every opportunity to achieve goals, ensuring a brighter future, and building productive members of society. As part of public education, Erie 1 BOCES is a cooperative of 19 suburban school districts in Erie County.
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