Tuesday, October 07, 2014

TOP STORY >> Cabot academy touts freshmen

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School District cut the ribbon to its $22 million Freshman Academy for ninth graders during a dedication ceremony Monday.

The 205,000-square-foot school opened in August to 800 students. The school was built with 60 percent partnership funding from the state.

The campus has four buildings with 70 classrooms, seven science labs, three computer labs, a meeting room, a media center with adjoining computer lab, a career, agriculture and construction center and a P.E. gym with seven locker rooms.

Choir, art, band and forensics classes are held at the cafeteria building with a stage jutting into the dining area. The school has a secure central courtyard.

Superintendent Tony Thur-man said, “We knew, with this year’s ninth-grade class, we had an issue. With the enrollment coming up, starting with this year’s ninth graders, did we want to add on to Junior High North and Junior High South and make those schools even bigger? How big of a school do you want for seventh, eighth and ninth graders?”

Thurman said he wanted to do something unique and discussed a ninth-grade school with school board members. He said the school is a beautiful building, but it’s the job of the faculty and staff to make it a home for ninth graders.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert proclaimed this week as Freshman Academy Week. He said the school board and Thurman are partners with the city in supporting education. Cypert recognized the district in appreciation of its commitment and service to the community.

School board president Mark Russell quoted Ben Franklin, “Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

“About five years ago, we put this building on the books. The state decided to partner with us and, today, this building is a reality,” Russell said.

Russell then quoted Gen. George S. Patton, who said, “If you tell people where to go and not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.”

Russell said, a year ago, Freshman Academy Principal Tanya Spillane started working on the project with the goal to graduate more students.

“There are countless studies that say ninth grade is where we lose kids. They can’t drop out of school until they are juniors and seniors. But it is because they didn’t get the foundation they needed in ninth grade,” Russell said.

“In some districts, they are thrown to the wolves with high schoolers. We looked at that as an option and building more rooms at the high school. But 9, 10, 11, 12 graders all on one campus is too many kids so this was built,” he continued.

“If you look around this building, you start to see what the staff at Freshman Academy and Mrs. Spillane came up with,” Russell said.

He went on to quote Ben Franklin again: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.”

Russell said the school is an interactive learning community, where teachers and staff are trying to make the school a community where everybody wants to learn, everyone helps one another and everyone moves forward.

Russell ended by quoting former UCLA basketball coach John Wooten. “I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any single profession.”

The board president concluded, “Without the teachers in this building and all over this district, it’s just brick and stone.”

Parent Stacy Gaddy said she is pleased with the academy because it’s a safer and more positive environment.

“I’m very proud to have a student here,” Gaddy said.

Her son, Landon Gaddy, said, “The school lunches are a big improvement. There are more choices. The hallways aren’t so crowded.”

Parent Hal Roper said, “I like the safe layout of the school. I like the new updated equipment. I’m very impressed.” His son, Holden, said the large-screen TVs are better than the projectors because he can see them better