Among the Planets
How would you like to take a computer class on Jupiter? Or perform in an auditorium on Neptune? If you’re a student at Robert L. Duffy High in Phoenix, Arizona you can do exactly that – but without ever leaving earth!
In September 2010, Dome Technology completed the construction of four monolithic domes, one with a diameter of 38 feet and three with diameters of 81 feet. Their exteriors resemble four of our planets: Saturn ringed in yellow hues, Earth in blues and greens, Neptune in cool blue and Jupiter in warm orange. All are totally solar powered, equipped with the latest technology and provide 25,000 square feet of usable space.
“But,” said Superintendent Bob Duffy, “what’s really important is not what a school looks like on the outside, but what goes on inside.”
Academics and Career Preparation
Named after its founder, the new Robert L. Duffy complex is the newest of six Career Success Charter High Schools, begun 10 years ago. All six operate with the same philosophy that offers a combination of academic and career focused classes.
Bob said, “We believe in a 20 to 1 ratio, so we limit our classes to 24 students. Classes are 75 minutes long. We have core curriculum classes in English, Math, Social Studies and Science. We also have hands-on classes that allow students to explore their career options. Our students come from all over the valley. Some have dropped out of the big schools. Our program helps students identify their skills and interests.”
Career-related classes include a Medical Program, Cosmetology, Culinary (prepares school’s lunches), Automotive, Recording Arts, Computer Technology and Business Entrepreneurship that arranges for Internships with downtown businesses.
Currently, the school has 240 students – some of whom do take computer classes in their state-of-the-art computer lab on Jupiter. You may find others on Neptune – rehearsing for a performance on its large stage in the 120-seat auditorium or studying the heavens in the planetarium, or working in the recording arts studio.
Those on Earth – both girls and boys – may be playing basketball in the two-basket, 100-chair gymnasium or running on the elevated, two-lane track. Bob said, “Twenty-three times around the track equals a mile. We initiated a 100-mile Club that we’re working in.”
As for Saturn, it’s a day-care center where single young moms can leave their children while they attend classes. The children range in age from six weeks to four years. Their mothers take a Child Development Class and spend at least one period per day in the center, working with the kids.