Board considers military, technology magnet at Battery Creek High School

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Board considers military, technology magnet at Battery Creek High School

By KATE CERVE kcerve@beaufortgazette.com 843-706-8177
Published Saturday, July 24, 2010   |  475 Words  |  news

A magnet program focused on military science and leadership development could be offered at Battery Creek High School in the 2011-12 school year as part of the Beaufort County School District's effort to develop a stronger identity for the school.
Battery Creek also could offer a program in information technology and engineering, according to a presentation to the Beaufort County Board of Education on Saturday, the second day of the group's annual summer work session.
Superintendent Valerie Truesdale said no decisions have been made, but staff are exploring ways to update the curriculum offered at the school.
Enrollment at Battery Creek will decline when classes start next month since many students have been reassigned to the new Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook.
Battery Creek served about 1,200 students last school year. Enrollment for this fall is expected to be about 880, principal Edmond Burnes said.
Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief, said the smaller population gives the district an opportunity to take another look at what the school offers in terms of programs and instructional opportunities.
"We really want to be able to rebrand and establish Battery Creek High School as a place that attracts interested students across the district," he said.
Alford said program and course changes wouldn't take effect this school year.
A military focus makes sense for Battery Creek, which already has a top Marine Corps Junior ROTC program, Burnes said.
He said more than 300 students participate. About 80 of them, however, will attend Whale Branch High this fall, where there is no ROTC program yet.
Burnes said students in a military-focused program within the main high school could participate in drill and formation exercises daily and study leadership along with the core curriculum.
Senfronia Smith, an assistant principal at Battery Creek, visited the Military Magnet Academy in Charleston to study its program.
"The students (there) look forward to the structure, they look forward to the discipline, they look forward to the leadership," she said.
Battery Creek also is a certified Project Lead The Way high school. The national program allows students to earn college credit in engineering courses. Burnes said the school could expand its engineering courses and perhaps focus on aerospace science in line with the arrival of Boeing in South Carolina.
Burnes said a military science or engineering magnet program would be open to students across the district.
He said all students at Battery Creek wouldn't have to participate in one of the specialty programs -- the school would continue to offer a traditional humanities curriculum as well.
Truesdale said at this point plans are conceptual and there is no budget for the changes. She said staff would make a recommendation to the board near the end of the year.