The Bergen County Academies is located on the Hackensack campus of Bergen County Technical Schools. The district was founded in 1951 to oversee the County's growing need for vocational education. The following year, Bergen County Vocational-Technical High School, the state's first full time facility, opened at 200 Hackensack Avenue. Back then students studied the union trades of plumbing, carpentry, masonry and electrical work. Because technical and vocational schooling is always closely tied to the job market, the cornerstone of the district's success has been its ability to adapt to the changing needs of local industry. When industry tools later changed from hand tools to computers, technical education had to adapt as well. The district believed students needed strong academic and technical skills to meet the challenges of the future. In the late 1980s the district began offering before and after school enrichment classes for students interested in high tech areas such as computers, physics and electronics. The program opened the world of modern Career & Technical vocational education to gifted and talented students.
The Bergen County Academies, began in 1992 as the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST) and became the model for the six additional magnet high school programs as follows: Academy for Business and Finance (ABF), Academy for Culinary Arts & Hospitality Administration (ACAHA), Academy for Engineering and Design Technology (AEDT), Academy for Medical Science Technology (AMST), Academy for Technology & Computer Science (ATCS), and the Academy for Visual & Performing Arts (AVPA). The Academy mission is to serve as an educational model for innovation and reform in the 21st century. In summary, we are a learning community comprised of individual career-focused academies that provide a dynamic, specialized, student centered environment that embraces the whole person. We encourage independent learning and creative problem solving at every level. Teachers serve as mentors in the learning process.
The Academies have been accepted by the International Baccalaureate organization. This program, with its emphasis on recent trends in the business world, is a natural fit for our Academy for Business and Finance, where students take seven courses across all disciplines, each leading to an audit style assessment that consists of both internal and external evaluations.
Each Academy prepares its students to meet the academic rigor of college and the corporate world beyond, through a specialized blend of professional, technical, and academic courses. To further connect with the world of work, each senior is required to complete a career-focused internship one-day per week called Senior Experience.
Bergen County Academies has an extended school day that officially is in session from 8:00 a.m. until 4:10 p.m., but frequently extends beyond, for student projects and sports. The year is divided into trimesters of equal length. Courses are scheduled in blocks of up to 60 minutes and generally meet twice per week on a Monday - Thursday or Tuesday - Friday cycle. Wednesdays are devoted to all-school transdisciplinary projects, research, labs, clubs, and Senior Experience for twelfth graders.
Instructors hold Master Degrees or higher - 20% hold PhD's. The course of study for all students in the seven academies is rigorous, project-driven, non-traditional, and requires motivation and commitment. Each program has distinct requirements in science, but all require the following: four years English, mathematics, physical education; three years social studies, science and world language; two years technology and art/music. In addition, students take three years of formalized projects and clubs, which are part of the school day each Wednesday. Bergen County Academies offer a myriad of electives, some of which are required pre-requisites for specialized programs; most, however, are open to all Academy students. A Senior Experience internship in 12th grade, and 40 hours of community service are also required for graduation. BCA students share in a rich learning environment which offers each the chance to participate in independent study, technical, athletic and academic competitions, and summer research experiences. BCA's innovative approach to learning and an enviable record of student success has set the standard for educational reform in our county and beyond.