Ninth-grade academy changing at Natchez High School

Published 12:16 am Friday, May 10, 2013

NATCHEZ — A true “freshman academy” at Natchez High School is the first step toward transforming the school into several smaller learning academies.

The NASD Board of Trustees voted Thursday to allow Superintendent Frederick Hill to develop the academy, which will serve as a school within a school for the ninth-grade students.

A ninth-grade academy was created at the high school last year during the reorganization of several schools within the district.

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Those students currently wear a different colored uniform and have their own principal, but are still mixed in with the other 10th- through 12th-grade students.

Hill said the change approved Thursday would get the district on the path isolating those ninth-grade students at the school, providing them with different courses and programs.

“This gives them their own identity, but still helps them through that tough transition into the high school world,” Hill said. “There are several development and course models out there that we’re looking at.

“Ideally we would love to have them in a separate building, but logistically that’s not possible right now.”

The approval Thursday also included assigning a principal, counselor and a librarian to the academy to meet certain accreditation requirements. Hill said those positions would be filled by employees already serving at the high school and would not affect the budgeting process.

Hill said the academy is part of a larger plan to organize the high school into a “career academy,” which would offer a variety of curriculum themes such as health sciences, law, business and finance and pre-engineering, among others.

Academy students would follow a curriculum geared toward that specific theme and work on specific career-oriented courses.

In other news from the meeting

4The school district saved $370,189 in utility costs through an energy conservation program that began last year.

Kelli Syrus, a representative from Cenergistic, an energy conservation company, presented the district with an award for the work it’s done to reduce their consumption of electricity at all the schools in the district.

“Not only have you saved dollars, but you’ve also had environmental savings,” Syrus said. “The environmental impact you’ve had during that time is equivalent of taking 271 cars off the roads.”

Hill said the steps taken in the district to generate those savings included simple things like making sure lights get turned off in empty classrooms.

“A lot of this is also about changing the mindset of people to think more about conservation efforts,” Hill said. “Those little things can add up and save us a lot of money.”