05/12/08 — SWHS will get three new 'schools' next year

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SWHS will get three new 'schools' next year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 12, 2008 1:46 PM

Three new vocational programs will be added at Southern Wayne High School in the fall.

But even with the good news in the southern end of the county, some residents are questioning what the announcement means for Goldsboro High School, whose fate has been hanging in the balance since Judge Howard Manning placed it under watch nearly two years ago.

Several academies have already been introduced at Charles B. Aycock, Rosewood, Spring Creek and Eastern Wayne high schools over the past year, targeting such areas as engineering and allied health. A School of Engineering was even added at Goldsboro High this year.

But the Board of Education Chairwoman Thelma Smith said last week that more needs to be done at the county's fledgling school.

The issue surfaced Monday following a presentation of the district's latest additions to the education program.

Debbie Grady, representing Wachovia Partnership East, and Eddie Radford, Southern Wayne principal, discussed the three programs being introduced in the fall -- Teacher Academy Program, Diesel Technology Academy and Construction Technology Academy.

"We tried to think of an academy that none of the other high schools in the county had," Radford said.

Citing the nationwide teaching shortage, as well as the need for programs to engage students and to better prepare them for the workforce, as the rationale for the subject areas chosen, Radford said the hope is to go beyond hands-on application and to curtail the dropout rate.

"We're thinking outside the box. Nothing we're doing is inside the box," he said. "This is something we think is going to be a really big hit."

The proposed three-year programs, he added, will be geared to students that need something beyond sitting in a classroom all day long. The diesel program, for example, will afford students the opportunity to work on engines, while students in the construction program will create buildings that might even be later offered for sale.

All well and good, Mrs. Smith said, but what about Goldsboro High?

"What about academies to keep kids interested in school other than the academics?" she asked. "Since this is the school needing that kind of attention, I just want to know what's the future plan for Goldsboro High in (terms of an) academy?"

The school does not have an academy, despite the hype surrounding the School of Engineering when it was introduced, she said.

"Since this is a school that needs a lot of this hands on to keep kids in school, what's in the future for that school? ... What are we doing to keep those kids engaged and in school?"

Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, attempted to field the questions.

"Goldsboro High School faculty are working on plans for the academics, not this coming school year but the next school year," she said. Among the areas being considered, she added, are business and cultural arts.

"We'll be doing surveys with students and then they will be coming forth with their academy plans. We'll be coming back to you with GHS academies next school year."

Board member Rick Pridgen said he would like to see an expansion of the arts, particularly a strings program.

Mrs. Smith said it is important to do everything possible to ensure Goldsboro High avoids closure.

"Since that school was targeted, it's always the center of everyone's conversation and I don't want this board to neglect paying attention to that school when it comes to really moving that school in the direction it needs to go," she said.