“It’s my job as superintendent to provide a pathway to graduation for every student who comes to our schools daily,” Superintendent John Harper said. “[The BCCCA] is a golden opportunity to do that.”
The academy will offer the option of dual enrollment through a partnership with Chattahoochee Technical College and Georgia Highlands College, allowing students to acquire college credit on the site of the BCCCA. The academy also will offer the career pathways of Engineering/Engineering and Technology; Marketing/Hospitality and Tourism; Health Science/Nursing; Marketing/Sports Entertainment; Public Safety/Law Enforcement; and Health Science/Physical Medicine.
The pathways were selected after local business and industry leaders completed a needs-assessment survey regarding the future of Bartow County employment needs.
Harper said the intent of the academy is to provide a non-traditional route to graduation while preparing students to enter the workforce or go to college with existing credit and idea of a future career. He said while some students are more comfortable in a traditional high school setting, the academy provides an alternative.
Director of Curriculum and Assessment Paul Sabin reiterated Harper’s remarks regarding the academy and graduation.
“For the most part, in Georgia, and you can find different statistics, but about 70 percent of our students graduate high school and that’s not enough,” Sabin said. “Even worse, of that 70 percent who do graduate, over half of them graduate with no idea what they want to do after high school.”
The academy, which recently received charter status from the state, is being funded by a $3.25 million grant. Sabin explained it also will see local, federal and state funding as long as students are attending the school.
Students will receive a degree from their base school, attending, for example, four courses a day at their high school and three courses a day at the BCCCA.
“We modeled this after the career academy in Rome, so our plan is students in the morning session will be dropped off here or will drive here, but we will also provide a bus at the base school that will come here in the morning,” Sabin said. “In the afternoon we will do the swap again ... so a student who has no transportation, but rides the bus currently, will still be able to attend here using that transportation.”
Limited to 300 students and targeting sophomores and juniors, the academy will begin the application and registration process in March as students register for classes at their base school. If accepted, a student will meet with a counselor to ensure they are taking the correct classes at both the BCCCA and their base school.
Cass High School freshman Austen Cornwell and his mother, Stacy Bowley, said they found the meeting informative.
“There are still a lot of questions [about the academy] because it’s so new to us, but what brought us out is the job market is horrible right now. So anything we can do to stay ahead of the damage that’s been done, that’s what we’re going to do — try to get him ready to get out there,” Bowley said.
Cornwell said he is looking at going into the Navy and later becoming an anesthesiologist.
“I came a little late because I was at [J.R.O.T.C.], but from what I did hear, I thought it was very cool to do, how we can get so far ahead earning credit,” Cornwell said.
His mother added, “He’s hoping to go into a medical [course pathway] so when he goes in to the Naval Academy, he’ll hopefully have a few credits under his belt, but this will help either way depending on which way he goes.”