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2 Hall schools restructuring to provide more for students
West Hall adding language program, Chestatee Academy becoming magnet school
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The new year is bringing new things to a pair of Hall County schools.

West Hall High School is creating a new program of choice, while Chestatee Academy is restructuring slightly to become a magnet school.

Representatives from both schools made presentations at the district school board meeting Monday.

Scott Justus, principal at West Hall, said he feels there is a void for students who attend World Language Academy in middle school and then go on to high school.

“What we’ve proposed is a World Scholars Program at West Hall High School, which would allow WLA to come to West Hall for this program,” Justus said.

The program would allow students to take certain core classes in Spanish, including ninth- and 10th-grade science, history, literature and math.

The school is already an International Baccalaureate Diploma school, but students could also work their way toward the new Hall County bilingual diploma seal and the Georgia International Skills Diploma.

“One of the goals we’re seeing in our balanced scorecard for teaching and learning is that by 2020 we want a third of our kids to receive the bilingual seal on their diploma,” said Superintendent Will Schofield. “That says they can speak, read, communicate and listen in at least two languages, if not three.”

Schofield added that linguistic programs give students an edge in future careers.

The program of choice will be presented to parents at World Language Academy in late January. Applications will be accepted in late February and early March. There are some “hurdles,” Justus said, including the need for more bilingual teachers.

Meanwhile, Chestatee Academy will be redesignated from a charter school to a magnet school.

Currently, the middle school has a “Soar Academy,” which will be expanded into “Soar Pathfinder Academies.” Students will be able to participate in more than 60 different “academies,” according to principal Jennifer Kogod.

“We believe the ‘gifted’ pedagogy is good for all students,” Kogod said. “So every day in a portion of our schedule, we give opportunities for kids to find their strengths and talents, and we provide instruction for that.”

These “pathfinder academies” are developed in three primary areas: STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math; arts and cultures; and health and wellness.

Students can study in two academy courses per year and receive a certificate in one of the three areas after three years.

School board chairman Nath Morris called the system “a way to reach the passions of students.”

“It’s finding something the kids can grab hold of and have a passion about,” Morris said. “And meanwhile, learning a lot and meeting standards too. It’s thinking outside the box to reach those passions in school, and that’s what it’s all about.”