‘College High School’ sparks interest

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2005

AHOSKIE – Welcome to the future of high school.

Hertford County Public Schools and Roanoke-Chowan Community College hosted a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss the Early College High School program.

“The current way of educating high school students is simply not working for many of our students,” Hertford County Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Deloatch said.

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The new high school will be based on the campus of Roanoke-Chowan Community College and will serve students in grades 9 n 12. The new school will not replace Hertford County High School, but will serve as an alternative option for students.

The purpose of the new high school, basically a classroom setting within RCCC, is to allow students to graduate high school with a diploma as well as an Associates Degree or two years of college credits.

“The Board of Education and academic leaders have been discussing a plan for about two and half years to provide better educational opportunities for our high school students and we are excited that we have received a planning grant from the Governor, Department of Public Instruction and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to continue the planning process,” Deloatch said. “I am very excited about the funds being awarded to the district to develop a program that would help us meet the needs of more of our children today.”

Hertford County Public Schools received a $45,000 grant to plan the new school and apply for an implementation grant to create the school.

“This is an excellent program and an opportunity to recreate high school,” RCCC’s Vice President of Planning and Advancement Dr. Claudia Morris said. “We are very excited about partnering with Hertford County Schools.”

The new school must mirror the community and must serve a diverse student population in terms of gender, socioeconomic status, academic ability, achievement and motivation.

If the grant is approved, the new school would begin with a 9th grade class of around 50 students in the fall of 2006 and would start with one principal and roughly seven teachers.

“Many students do not feel challenged in a traditional school,” Hertford County Schools Director of Career-Technical Education Dr. Brenda Tinkham said. “Students will receive extra support, academically and emotionally. This is a critical age for these students.”

The new school should help reduce drop-out rates by implementing various new approaches to education, using different learning strategies and focusing on more technology based programs.

“The new school will pursue relevant things in the students’ lives,” Morris added

“There are certain non-negotiable aspects of the program,” Tinkham said.

According to Tinkham, the school must follow the university prep curriculum, meet individual students’ needs, provide opportunities for work based experiences, provide non-traditional scheduling, have a maximum population of 400 students and the school’s population must mirror the population of the county.

“This is not a magnet school,” Morris emphasized.

The Early College High School planning team includes Deloatch, Morris, Tinkham, Hertford County High School Principal Larry Cooper, Janet Jones, Linda Alexander, Diane Kimbrough and the team’s coach Dr. Jerry Congleton.

“The primary focus of this school will be on students who have potential, but who are not realizing their potential in a traditional setting,” Congleton said. “We need new concepts to be effective.”

The team is in the process of writing the implementation grant for the school. The team will submit the grant proposal to the school board and county commissioners in mid November and to the state’s New Schools Project in January 2006. The grant would average $350,000 a year for five years if approved.

The team shared a video with the audience and took questions from interested parents. The informational video included interviews of high school students expressing their frustrations with traditional high schools and discussing the academic progress the Early College High School concept has provided.

“We are fortunate to have people in our area who care about helping high school students to become successful in the future,” Deloatch said. “The Hertford County Board of Education, the RCCC Board of Trustees and their respective staffs, parents and community members have all been very supportive.”