Alcovy High School recently added a new wing to benefit the growing student population. However, this addition is not currently in use by the school.
While the building has been complete and is ready to use, the economy and the current size of the student body has dictated the delay of its opening date.
"The primary reason [for postponing the wing’s opening] is financial," said Alcovy principal Dr. LaQuanda Brown. "Of course, with the budget crisis and what we’re feeling right now, it just won’t make a lot of sense for the district in regard to the extra utility and electricity costs. We’re waiting until the fall. We’ll definitely be fully operational in the fall."
The new addition, which has been dubbed as the Freshman Academy by the students and staff, is located just off of the school’s existing gym. The Academy is a new concept in Newton County, and something that Rockdale has done for several years.
The two-story building contains 22 classrooms on each floor, with identical floor plans.
"We’re trying to create the ninth grade academy and help them with the transition for high school," said Brown. "The research does show that when ninth graders are isolated during their first year of high school, they tend to do better with less distractions."
A smooth transition to high school is not the only benefit that these upcoming freshmen will enjoy. The new wing has an infusion of state-of-the-art technology.
"Once it opens, it will increase the resources for our students," Brown said. "Of course we have labs in the existing wings, but this wing will also have four additional labs. Every room will also have a smart board."
Smart boards are found in some math classrooms throughout the rest of the building, but this cutting edge teaching technology is an expensive and hot commodity for a school to receive.
"That was made available through SPLOST," Brown said. "We are very appreciative in that regard."
Alcovy is the first school in the county to try this new idea of creating a transition for entering ninth graders.
Although the Freshmen Academy does not have a cafeteria, the freshmen will still be amongst their peers during their lunch.
"What we will probably do is structure the lunch to where the ninth graders will go to lunch by themselves," said Brown.
As for the electives, said Brown, "There will be some electives only for ninth graders that will be taught by teachers that are housed over here [in the Freshman Academy]."
Brown elaborated and said that the department chairs and administrators met to discuss how to properly utilize the new building, and have not finalized anything yet.
"Right now they’re working on their course lists for next year," she said. "We will have the opportunity to create more electives. They’re going to let us know what they are interested in teaching. And of course we’ll provide some input, we’ll collaborate and come up with a final list."
Besides lacking a lunchroom, the academy will be self-sufficient. As part of the building, there are three administrative offices to house an assistant principal and support staff, including a resource officer.
Another addition to Alcovy that was made possible through the Freshmen Academy’s creation is the auxiliary gym.
"We know that our wrestlers practice in the commons [and] our cheerleaders practice in the commons," said Brown. "That would give them an opportunity to practice in the gym. When the girls’ basketball team and the boys’ basketball team practice at the same time, one of them could come in here."
Brown is also looking into the future of the school. Newton County now has the hope of hosting large sporting events that take up more room than one gym can provide.
"We can start hosting tournaments, and we are planning to do that," Brown said. "We’re planning a multi-county tournament in July."
This tournament, according to Brown, is anticipated to bring funding and attention not only to Alcovy High but also into Newton County.
"I’m excited because as a teacher [or] as an administrator, you always want to have the space primarily to do whatever it is you want to do," she said. "When people come up with ideas and teachers say, ‘well this is what I want to do,’ the last thing you want to respond with is ‘we don’t have the space.’ So, we will have the space to pretty much do whatever we want to do, and that helps with the resources that we can offer for students and for the community."