Local magnet school admission criteria expand to benefit military children
Military moves often come with short notice and as a result many military children miss an opportunity to attend special school programs, such as those offered at magnet schools.
After an appeal by several Fort Gordon military families and Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, to the Richmond County School System, provisions were voted on to give military students, who qualify and arrive after the admission application process has been completed, an opportunity to earn admission to Richmond County’s magnet schools.
Attending a magnet school is a competitive process in which applications must be completed and submitted by an established deadline that is usually by January each year. The Academy for Advanced Placement Studies and the Academy of Richmond County International Baccalaureate program are also competitive programs requiring applications and adherence to deadlines, according to Melissa Barrickman, the school liaison officer for Aiken, S.C., and Richmond and Columbia counties in Georgia.
“International baccalaureate programs are rigorous college preparatory courses of study for highly motivated high school students,” she added. “The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia awards up to 24 hours of college credit for the IB diploma and IB students also earn extra quality points for IB courses in their HOPE scholarship grade point average calculation.”
A magnet school, which is part of the public school system, offers a specialized curriculum or course, such as math-science or performing arts programs. The Richmond County School System has four magnet schools in the area. C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, (grades kindergarten through 12th grade); Davidson Fine Arts Academy (grades 6-12); A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering (grades 6-12); and Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School (grade 9,with the school planning to add a grade each year through grade 12).
With the newly established criteria established by the Richmond County school system, area magnet schools will work in conjunction with Fort Gordon to identify potential applications during the application period and to schedule with the school(s) the potential applicants currently attend, the administration of admission tests and fine arts auditions. “This step will prevent students from having to make special travel arrangement to be in Augusta during the testing window,” Barrickman said.
The new guidelines will apply to all area magnet schools. “Each magnet school will accept up to five applications from qualified students (first come, first serve) of military families, provided documentation of active orders received by the parent or guardian after the January 31 deadline is received by the system,” Barrickman explained.
These applications must be received between Feb. 1 and July 1. Students would have to meet eligibility requirements and may be invited to test prior to the start of the school year. Testing or auditioning would need to be completed no later than the last day of preplanning. “Students in middle school, scoring at or above the final cut score, would be offered admission based on available in an area magnet school,” Barrickman said.
High school students would be evaluated based on their respective transcripts. According to the Richmond County Board of Education’s newly approved criteria, decisions prior to admission would be made on a case by case basis to determine the ability of such students to remain on track for graduation.
Another part of the change to the magnet school military admission criteria would affect military families applying to C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School in Richmond County. The school has space in the middle grades and would be able to accommodate pupils after the July 1 application window passes. “Students in middle school would be allowed to apply to C.T. Walker up to Oct. 1 and would be admitted if their required admission scores are above those students who have already been accepted,” Barrickman explained.
These changes were made and implemented after careful consideration.
“It was after receiving several requests from military parents and a letter from Major General [LaWarren V.] Patterson, I and the principals of the area magnet schools came together and drafted some possible admission criteria with the assistance of our attorneys,” said Dr. Missoura Ashe, assistant superintendent for elementary education of Richmond County. “We felt that it was the patriotic thing to do.”
To find out information about open houses and application deadlines for the magnet schools, advanced placement, and IB programs, frequently check the Richmond County School System website, www.rcboe.org.
Scheduled magnet school open houses for prospective students
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Note: C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School is currently taking applications through Jan. 31. (Source: Melissa Barrickman, School Liaison officer for Aiken, S.C., and Richmond and Columbia Counties in Ga.)