01/16/06 — New high school seeks applicants for fall semester

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New high school seeks applicants for fall semester

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 16, 2006 1:49 PM

Wayne County Public Schools is preparing to open its 32nd school this fall, to be located on the Wayne Community College campus.

Wayne Early/Middle College High School, part of a national high school reform initiative, will become the school system's seventh high school, with 60 available seats open to any Wayne County junior or senior who qualifies.

The school is expected to expand to include grades 9-12 by 2007, allowing students to complete their entire high school career on the college campus.

Officials said the school is an important endeavor as early/middle college schools work to reach disengaged students who might benefit from a rigorous academic schedule within a nurturing environment.

"Wayne Early/Middle College High School was created out of a strong partnership between Wayne Community College and Wayne County Public Schools. It is our goal to see that all Wayne County students succeed. We know that this innovative high school will prepare students for a brighter future," said Anne Millington, director of collaborative programs at WCC.

With smaller numbers enrolled than at traditional high schools, officials hope the environment will be conducive to more individualized attention for the students. Organizers say they hope it will help ensure students will graduate from high school, while paving the way to their earning a college degree.

Like the traditional high school, students who graduate from Wayne Early/Middle College High School will earn a North Carolina high school diploma from the school. The school will not, however, offer extra-curricular activities such as team sports.

"Parents need to understand that Wayne Early/Middle College High School is not an alternative school for troubled students. It's also separate from the 'Jump Start' program that allows students to attend college classes, but then return to their home high school each day," said Lee Johnson, recently named director/principal for the new high school.

A Wayne County native with 19 years of educational experience within the school system, Mrs. Johnson previously served as a teacher, career development coordinator, special populations coordinator, apprenticeship coordinator and most recently lead teacher for career-technical education and high school reform.

"It's our mission to create a small autonomous high school, which has a strong academic focus and personalized relationships. In the process, helping reach those students who want to succeed academically but who are having trouble doing so within a larger more traditional high school setting," she said.

The registration process for the 2006-07 school year is scheduled to begin in February. Applications will soon be made available through the six public schools and also online. Students who apply will also go through an interview process before being accepted.

Once enrolled, students will attend college classes in the morning and take high school classes in the afternoon. The college credits earned can be put towards a two-year associate degree or two years at an accredited university.

"As educators, we recognize that just because a student may have the potential to succeed, it doesn't mean they will. Oftentimes, outside factors can cause a student to lose interest in their education. For example, parents divorcing, having a family member pass away, or even living in an environment where crime seems like an everyday occurrence can cause a child to become disenfranchised with school and in many cases drop out," Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said.

"The early/middle college high school is just one more way Wayne County Public Schools can ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed academically and in the process help reduce the school system's dropout rate."

For more information on the proposed high school, call Mrs. Johnson at 705-6187.