Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prep Academy begins fifth year with 192 students

The opening ceremony of the 2011 SW Arkansas College Preparatory Academy was held in Arkansas Hall on HSU's campus and is pictured above. (photo/Steve Fellers)

Prep Academy begins fifth year with 192 students

Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University will host 192 high school students from local school districts as the fifth year of an innovative educational opportunity in Clark County begins.  The Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy is scheduled to resume classes on October 13.

The program was designed as part of the High School Redesign Initiative of the Southwest-A Education Renewal Zone at HSU and the Arkansas Department of Education.  Leaders from Arkadelphia Public Schools, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, College of the Ouachitas, Dawson Educational Cooperative, Southern Bancorp, Ross Foundation, Clark County Strategic Plan, local business and community representatives and elected officials participated in the development of the Academy in 2009.  The project was expanded to include the Centerpoint and Gurdon School Districts for the Academy’s second year with the Cabe Foundation and Olds Foundation joining the partnership.

The purpose of the Academy is to provide additional academic opportunities for students to ensure that they are ready for postsecondary studies upon completion of high school.  Students were selected based on their interest in attending a four-year postsecondary institution and an application process.  Information from the EXPLORE test administered in the eighth grade will be used to help students prepare for the ACT they will take as juniors.

“Our ongoing commitment to this project has been a true collaborative effort and we are grateful to all of our partners.  With the success our first graduating class, we are pleased to continue the program with other area districts in Clark County.  We are fortunate to have the support of our community and universities,” Arkadelphia Public Schools Superintendent Donnie Whitten said.

The Academy will focus on the areas of reading, English, mathematics, and career planning.  The program will pair a public school teacher with university professors from HSU and OBU, resulting in a faculty-student ratio of 1 to 10.  The Academy will hold classes on selected Saturdays from October through May and two weeks in June.  Activities will take place at HSU and OBU with plans to expose students to additional university experiences through field trips and off-campus activities.  Funded by local school districts and grants from the Arkansas Department of Education, all classes and activities will be offered at no cost to the students.

Dr. Glen Jones, president of HSU, said the Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy’s progressive initiative plays a major role in the future of education in Clark County. “The academy has a tremendous impact on our schools, students and communities,” Jones said. “I commend the educators responsible for developing the program, and look forward to working with them and this outstanding group of students as we continue to develop this innovative and highly-successful effort.”

“We are so proud of these students and the commitment they have made.  We look forward to the return of our current students and to meeting our ninth graders on October 8th.  Our faculty and staff are planning many exciting activities preparing for their return,” Paulette Blacknall, director of the Southwest-A Education Renewal Zone at HSU, said.

The opening celebration for the Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy will be held on Monday, October 8 at 6 p.m. in Arkansas Hall.  Henderson President Dr. Glen Jones is scheduled to address the audience and provide the “charge” to this year’s students.   For more information on the Academy, please contact Paulette Blacknall at 870-230-5476.

The Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy and Arkadelphia’s efforts to improve its college-going rate were highlighted in Arkansas Business Magazine as a 2011 “City of Distinction” program award winner.

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