Friday, August 08, 2014

TOP STORY >> Freshman Academy set to open

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School District’s newest building, the Freshman Academy for ninth graders, is set to open the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 18.

Many students who picked up their schedule with their parents were wide-eyed and opened- mouthed as they walked into the school.

The $22 million Freshman Academy will have 800 students. It is adjacent to Junior High North. The district built the complex with 60-percent partnership funding from the state.

“The entire staff did a fabulous job of opening our newest school to our students and parents. When we started planning for the Freshman Academy four years ago, I could not have anticipated it coming together as well as it has,” Superintendent Toney Thurman said.

“We realized with our enrollment that Junior High South and Junior High North could not accommodate three grade levels beginning with this school year without using portable classrooms or expanding those two schools. The decision to develop a specialized program in a state-of-the-art facility for our freshmen will have a significant and very positive impact on many students for many years to come,” Thurman said.

Freshman Academy’s layout is similar to the Cabot High School. The campus has four buildings with 73 classrooms, a meeting room, a media center with adjoining computer lab, a career, agriculture and construction center and a gym.

The main building has classes for science, math, foreign languages, English, history and oral communications. Soundproof, collapsible accordion walls are used in some of the classrooms to allow students to work together and to open up during guest speakers.

Technology is visible at the school with each classroom having a 70-inch Smart TV connected to the Internet. A teacher’s computer desktop can be shown on the screen. Students can show their work on the TVs while working from tablets, iPads and Chromebook laptop computers.

The gym has bleachers to seat 300 people. The gym floor can be divided into two full-size basketball courts with a drop-down curtain. All physical education and health classes will be taught in the gym.

Freshman Academy will have two teams for each sport. Basketball games will be played at Junior High North and South basketball courts. Wrestling will be the main sport held at the school. Matches will take place in the gym.

Choir, art, band and forensics classes will be held in the cafeteria building with a stage emerging into the dining area. The stage will be used for ninth-grade performances, community events and banquets.

The cafeteria is large enough to seat 800 students at one time

The courtyard will have basketball goals and a lot of seating.

Bus drop-off will be at the back of the school with car rider drop-off at the front.

The district believes the Freshman Academy will provide ninth graders with a smoother transition from junior high to high school, student achievement and attendance will increase and that discipline problems will decrease.