02/13/09 — GHS to add more specialized academies

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GHS to add more specialized academies

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 13, 2009 1:46 PM

Goldsboro High School will add two specialized academies in the fall designed to help students become more ready for the future, officials said this week.

Principal Patricia Burden made the announcement during a presentation before the school board about the success of previously-established academies at the school.

In 2007, the school introduced Granville Academy, a free after-school program preparing students for business, and became an America's Choice School, a program designed to shore up graduation rates. A business and finance academy was added this year.

The efforts have been in part the response to scrutiny the school came under in recent years, at one point facing possible closure because of its low performance. The school has been closely watched by the state's Department of Public Instruction and had to operate under mandates set by Judge Howard Manning.

"We have been working with the turnaround teams -- we're looking forward to completing that in June," Ms. Burden said.

The work is not over, though. Rather, she said, it's about building on the foundation that has been started.

"Fortunately we had already been two years in freshman academies and we used our freshman academies to establish two houses of our freshmen students coming in," she said. "The second year we implemented a sophomore academy, (and) we feel we are being very successful in that."

After two years of outstanding evaluations, she said the next logical focus is on academics. That's where the newest academies come in, except they will be set up differently, in that the classes will not be in an isolated area like the freshman and sophomore academies.

"The third-year focus is additional academies -- we have chosen to look at health sciences and AP, advanced placement," she said.

The health sciences academy is designed to train health care workers to enter the field, but not just in the area of nursing, said Janet Krueger, director of the program.

"We want to afford our students the opportunity to open up possibilities they don't even know exist yet," she said. "There are 200 different occupations in the health care field."

The academy will be rigorous, she said, but will prepare students for the global workplace.

"Health occupations is a gold mine of opportunities for our students," she said. "Those that need a job right out of the gate at graduation will be trained and ready to go."

It will also give them a jump start on their college education, she added, with college credit available.

The AP Academy is also a rigorous course of study.

"(It's for) highly-motivated students -- for underrepresented students taking AP courses," Ms. Burden said.

Along with required academic curriculum, students in the academy will take at least one honors and AP course per year. The added bonus is that students will have the opportunity to obtain college credit while still in high school.

"We want to begin with freshmen coming in, but any students already at Goldsboro High School will have the opportunity to take courses in these programs," Ms. Burden said.