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Wood's Mill Academy looks to expand as Fair Street moves

POSTED: March 21, 2013 12:43 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Wood's Mill Academy student Jocelyn Velasquez works alongside classmates during English class. As Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School leaves Wood's Mill School this summer and moves into its own facility, Wood's Mill Middle School will be joining Wood's Mill High School in the same building.

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Wood’s Mill Academy is “shifting,” as Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer calls it.

Right now, the building that houses the school is also host to 650 Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School students.

But as those elementary students move into a newly built school next year, Wood’s Mill will expand its programs to possibly include more than 300 high school students and 75 middle school students, Dyer said.

There’s a catch, though. If construction is delayed on the new Fair Street school, the middle school population may initially be limited to about 25 students, Dyer said. Enrollment could increase once those students do leave, though.

“Now, Wood’s Mill wants to build its own identity and renew the space for the facility’s use,” Dyer said.

Wood’s Mill Academy opened three years ago at the old Gainesville Middle School building and became a full-fledged high school in 2010.

The academy is a magnet school of choice providing gifted, “but not limited to gifted,” curriculums both for middle-school-aged and high-school-aged students, Dyer said. The program allows students to earn a traditional high school diploma at their own pace.

The term, “magnet” school is defined as a public school that offers a special curriculum capable of attracting a substantial number of students of different racial backgrounds, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

“We will be adding certified gifted/talented instructors for the middle school students,” Dyer said.

The middle school program is inquiry-based, she added.

“The academic standards are applied to real-life applications in the school,” she said, similar to some programs at Gainesville High.

“One day the middle school students may have art, or P.E., while also a portion of their time they will volunteer in the area, such as maybe at the humane society if a student is interested in animal sciences or at the hospital if a student is interested in life sciences,” she said.

While the middle school students are volunteering for “real-life applications,” Wood’s Mill High School students are enrolled in work-based apprenticeships or dual-enrollment courses that might be available at Lanier Technical College or the University of North Georgia.

Dyer said Wood’s Mill High offers flexible class options, but contracts lay out academic expectations and responsibilities for the students.

The academy also will be developing extracurricular activities. Sports participation will be on the club level at first, Dyer said.


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