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Camaione takes lead role in Hartford charter school
August 29, 1997

David Camaione, a professor of sport, leisure, and exercise science, is a co-founder of the Sport Sciences Academy, a new charter school in Hartford, that will focus its curriculum on sport and exercise sciences. A downtown building formerly used as the St. Francis School of Nursing is the site of the new school ,which opens Sept. 2 for the 1997-1998 school year.

Camaione, a leader in his field who was called upon to help develop the school's curriculum, has elected to remain part of the school's day-to-day events as a member of the academy's board of directors, which will serve as the academy's governing body.

Camaione says the school will follow a normal high school curriculum, but will infuse the theme of sports into every subject. Examples may include studying racism in baseball in an American History class, or reading biographies of famous athletes in an English class. Other topics to be studied include exercise science, sports medicine, sports management, fund raising and development, and athletic apparel marketing.

"One of the great benefits of this school, and charter schools in general, is that the students are there because the curriculum focuses on their particular interest," Camaione says.

Although the idea of starting a high school-level curriculum that thematically bases its classes on sport science is unique in Hartford, the idea of a curriculum based on specialized fields has been gaining currency nationwide since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992. In the past five years, an additional 426 charter schools have opened in the United States.

Camaione says the school is an independent experiment that offers students an alternative education.

"Charter schools are another way to educate and change public education. We believed a school of sport science is at a sophisticated level where people can pursue a sports career, beginning in high school," says Camaione.

The school hopes to enroll 125 students per year for the first four years, for a total enrollment of 500 students. Camaione says the projected enrollment is high compared with other charter schools nationwide, where the average enrollment in January 1997 was 275 students, because of the high dropout rate in Hartford public schools.

Camaione will bring in UConn doctoral students in the biophysical aspect of sport as well as social sciences to teach at the Sport Sciences Academy.

"For Hartford, the new school could be part of the revival that focuses on education and the arts. For the UConn students, it will be an exposure to a city whose revival in education may lie in alternative education such as the Sport Sciences Academy," Camaione says. For him, the new school is an experiment beyond the UConn campus that offers a new role.

Kevin Barbero

Kevin Barbero, a junior at East Hartford High School, wrote this article during a mentorship with the Office of University Communications, as part of the Mentor Connection program.