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New Charter School : First Day of School in Arkansas - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

New Charter School : First Day of School in Arkansas

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TEXARKANA, Ark. -

Summer break officially ended Monday as thousands of Arkansas students returned to class.

Our cameras were at North Heights Jr. High in Texarkana, Arkansas, as students arrived bright and early for the start of a new school year.

The district is trying a number of new things this year, including switching parent-teacher conferences to daytime hours from 1pm - 7pm.

 "The teachers are so excited, we have so many new things this year, things that will help keep our students involved and on the right track," said North Heights Principal Theresa Cowling.

Cowling greeted students like Logan Lowery, who is in the 7th grade and says he is ready to get the new year going.

"I'm ready to meet my new teachers and I just hope I do good," said Lowery.  

The district is also taking a bold step this year as they re-define the term at-risk. Often when we think of at-risk youth we think about the students who are the verge of dropping out but school officials say at-risk also involves students who are gifted but bored in a traditional school setting.

That is why the district is opening its first charter school for students who are at at-risk for different reasons.

"This is not a second chance school. This is not a punitive alternative. No one will be assigned here because they got in trouble. No one will go here because they got in trouble.  The students that will be here are here because they want to be here and because there is a certain need, " said Washington Academy Charter School Principal Terry Taylor.

The  school is a conversation school, dedicated to helping students graduate. There is a small staff of teachers with only 120 students.

"We wanted to keep it small in terms of the student to teacher ratio 12 to 1 and in order to do that we have 12 teachers and  that really pushes the odds down to about 10 to 1," Taylor told Education Reporter Eric James.

Taylor also explained that while they will  encourage  and help struggling students  finish school, some students who only need a couple of classes to graduate will be able to take those classes at the school and graduate early.  

 "What happens to them is they have to go high school and take seven classes instead of the two classes they  need,  so they don't do the best in those other five classes because they realize they don't really need them and they are really ready to move on to the next level, " said Taylor.

Washington Charter Academy will serve grades 9th -12th . Each student must apply and will receive a individual learning plan. The school will also provide an option for credit recovery for graduation, as well as, vocational opportunities to students.

 

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