Columbia Secondary immerses its students in science and math as a way of seeing and making sense of the world. Learning experiences focus on the active exploration of major concepts, ideas, and theories that respond to life’s big questions. Students will be exposed to the history of these ideas; the struggles and controversies necessary for their development; the kinds of questions and problems that are key to the discovery process; and the special role of effort and creativity. Students model and engage in their own explorations so that they may experience the excitement, beauty, and difficulty of discovery. Students become cognizant of the limits of knowledge and be sensitive to the dangers of an over-reliance on science and technology. Students learn to explore new questions, to ponder the significance of new scientific discoveries, and to use scientific knowledge and critical thinking in their own life decision-making.
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Student reaction to the Vietnam War was a nationwide phenomenon, and Columbia provided no exception to the pattern. A Student Peace Group was organized at Columbia in 1968, and over 300 students actively participated. Members wore black armbands on April 26 of that year, and a community rally was held the next day with faculty members present. On March 17, 1969, 43 Columbia students were suspended for distributing leaflets in school. The American Civil Liberties Union agreed to defend the students, but the issue later became moot when, over a period of time, the students were reinstated.