Welcome Back!

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

The time has come for yet another exciting year at the Academy of Occult Arts!

As you all know, this school year begins next Monday, on the twenty-second. Whether you are a fellow upperclassmen eager to get out of that winter funk and jump back into your lessons and clubs–or a freshman concerned about your future compliance with our strict schedule–you’ll find the answers to all your questions in this handy dandy article.

Let’s start with the basics:

Who am I?

Icon by @oveikeii [Twitter/IG]

My name is Fiona. I’m a senior at the Academy of Occult Arts (which will henceforth be referred to as AOA or the Academy), President of the Journalism Club, Editor-in-Chief of the school newsletter The Arcane Citizen–the very one you’re currently reading! Vice President of the Choir Council, student council reporter, and an officer of both the Environmental and Horticulture clubs.

My classification is Enchanter; I’m a dryad from the St. Lawrence frolick. I have a younger sibling who also attends AOA, and I practically put The Arcane Citizen on the map and on the web! I joined this outfit when I was just a cub reporter and put my all into digitizing our school paper. This fairy is proof that you can do anything with a little elbow grease and a lot of can-do attitude!

When do you receive your schedule?

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Well, if you’re an upperclassmen, then you should have received your schedules by the end of February. You can make arrangements with the front office to have your schedule sent by post or email, but those changes won’t help you for the current academic year. On the off chance that you don’t receive your schedule–or you, ahem, misplace it–you can always request a physical copy from your local AOA representative. Try not to make a habit of that, though.

As for the freshmen who will be joining us, do not panic. The night before classes start is Freshman Orientation, where you and your guardian(s) can dedicate as much time as is necessary to meet Dr. Shararah, our headmistress, and the faculty that teach first year courses. That is where you’ll meet your tutor, or your homeroom professor, and receive your schedule and DarkWatch. You will also be given the name of your guide, who will be awaiting your arrival the following night at the entryway–so don’t worry about getting lost or anything. Everything has already been taken care of for you.

What is an AOA guide?

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At AOA, we don’t throw our newbies into the fray and expect you to figure things out on your own. We want you to succeed, just as our peers who’ve long-since graduated helped us in our times of need. That is the origin of the tradition of freshman guides.

These guides are upperclassmen (usually sophomores and juniors, but you’ll see some seniors in the bunch) who volunteer to aid you for your first year. They give you tours, escort you to your classes, explain your schedules, and can answer just about any question you throw at them. Remember, they wouldn’t volunteer to help a random student unless they truly wanted to offer their assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask them “stupid” questions. We’ve all been where you are now.

It is worth noting that, while some of you may have guides who will give you their contact information for the sake of helping you outside of school, electronics that have not been approved by Col. Ru, our dean, and his staff are NOT permitted in the dark dimension. Please consult this page for a list of items that are not allowed versus are allowed. If you don’t see the item in question, be sure to ask your guide or homeroom professor before you test that boundary.

What to expect:

First things first, not every student is the same. About half of the Hunter class and two-thirds of the Enchanter class can pass for human; therefore, those students will most likely have to attend human school during the day. Even so, the majority of the student body is nocturnal, so you’re going to want to set your alarms for no later than thirty minutes to midnight (Eastern time), regardless of your classification.

By no later than fifteen minutes before the first bell, you should have entered the dark dimension through an Academy-approved entrance and met your designated guide. After your introductions, your guide will go over your schedule with you and escort you to your homeroom. They should be utilizing that time to point out the path your taking, rooms you pass, et cetera.

At AOA, homeroom is actually labelled as your “planning period,” but you’ll hear it referred to as “homeroom” or “free period.” Your homeroom professor is chosen based on your year and classification; for instance, as a senior Enchanter, my homeroom professor will most likely be Professor Stedelen. Along with being a ghost who teaches Advanced Magick I and II, he also lends his classroom to junior and senior Enchanters and Haunters for their free periods. Your homeroom professor is also your unofficial tutor and representative, so reach out to them should you have any grievances.

Check out this page for a breakdown of how your schedule is arranged, and this one for a list of classes our academy offers and what classes are required. You attend planning period twice a day, Monday through Friday–you only get one free period a day on the weekends. After homeroom, you have ten minutes to get to your next class. Your guide will escort you to the best of their ability–they’ve been granted passes for tardiness during the first week to ensure that you get where you need to go, but try not to rely on them too much. They need to learn, too!

Your DarkWatch is synced to your schedule; it will tell you how many minutes you have in between classes, as well as track your movements on campus. This allows the device to preemptively alert you of your potential tardiness based on your position relative to your next class and the amount of time left. Pay attention to the color of your watch–the face will turn red the second you’re late and it will keep track of your tardiness. You’ll have to face the wrath of the professor whose class you’re late from if you don’t have a special pass from another member of AOA faculty. Remember: only the professor for your current period can reset your watch by commencing and dismissing class. Skipping is unacceptable!

After your first two classes, the entire academy will have an hour to eat and decompress. Our café has options for creatures from all walks of life, easily adapting to the individual’s dietary needs. Check out this page where our resident foodie Aspen lays out the various diets AOA caters too, and stay tuned for his weekly blog where he outlines the café menu!

This next part can be a smidge confusing for the new and forgetful student, but bear with me. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the hour after our mid-night meal is reserved for professor planning. You do not, I repeat, do not return to homeroom or a different class. Instead, AOA has designated an hour on each of these days for our physical education. You can check out the aforementioned page of courses for a complete list of every form of physical education we offer. My personal favorites are yoga and dance.

Photo by Rishikesh Yogpeeth on Unsplash

Note to fellow Enchanters, specifically witches: do not bring your own broom. AOA maintains a fully stocked and thoroughly inspected room of brooms specifically charmed for flight in the dark dimension. You will be putting yourself and your fellow students at risk by bringing an earth broom into the dark dimension. Do not risk it!

You’re probably wondering what happens during the hour after lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. AOA is cutting edge in a multitude of ways, including how our faculty responds to and treats mental health. Our professors want us to be the best we can be, and we can’t reach our true potential if we’re holding onto anything negative. Dr. Shararah has determined that half the Academy should attend a course on mental health on Tuesdays, in which they will learn the dangers of peer pressure, cliques, and overexertion. The other half of the Academy will attend this course on Thursdays–which day you attend will be reflected on your schedules.

Those students will also have the chance, should they feel comfortable, to share their thoughts either to the class or privately in their mental health notebook. Keep in mind that only the counselors will be able to read the contents of these personal journals, but should they find any sign that you might harm yourself or your peers, they will report to Dr. Shararah. Please do not allow this to discourage you from sharing your truest thoughts, feelings, and concerns; even if your journal is reported, the report and its contents will remain between you, the counselors, the headmistress, and your guardian(s).

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

If you are feeling lost, or need someone to speak or chat with, please visit this website. Find your country and the hotline that is most applicable to you and dial the number. Do not hang up–speak to the human on the other end. Let them help you.

It’s going to be okay.

Back to a typical day in school: if it’s a mental health day and you are part of the school that is not designated to attend a mental health course, then you will be attending one of your normal classes. Please refer to your schedule for the specific course and professor, and make sure to ask your guide where that class is before lunch ends. There’s always the chance that your guide will be attending the course on a day that you aren’t, so better safe than sorry.

After your last period, it’s time to return to your homeroom for the second and final planning period of the night. This one will only last thirty minutes, so it’s really just a chance to let you get a head start on the next day’s assignments. We abide by a strict “no paper homework” rule at AOA, though once or twice a quarter your professors may assign a project, essay, or home exercise to aid in your current lesson. This will allow you to use your free time to better prepare yourself for the quarterly exams. You can find out which classes require you to take the quarterlies on our page of academy courses and extracurriculars. Spoiler alert: if it’s a core class, odds are that it has a mandatory quarterly exam.

And that, my fellow Citizens, is a summary of what you can expect from your orientation, class schedule, and just your first day in general. It may not have been the summary you deserved, but it was certainly the one you needed. Feel free to peruse our digital newsletter, check out the articles posted by our team, and follow us to stay up to date on Academy news. Our aim is to keep bring you the latest announcements.

Remember: you’re not alone, and we’re here for you.

Fiona Lawrence

Editor-in-Chief

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