Basketball game between Flowery Branch students and faculty
Hall County has three new charter schools this year. Each Tuesday, we’ll introduce you to one of them.
Students in Hall County have a new option when deciding the focus of their high school career.
Flowery Branch High School, a Global Studies and Leadership Academy is one of three schools gaining charter status this school year, after the approval of its charter in April.
“There are just a ton of good things going on at this school. I think it was just kind of like putting the icing on the cake,” said Dennis Naughton, a member of the school’s governance board and the band director. “If schools don’t change, if they don’t try to change, they’re going to get left behind.”
The school’s charter outlines several goals for student achievement, including more opportunities to foster leadership skills and learn about different areas in the world.
In order to help them become more marketable in business or just simply more well-rounded socially, students will be exposed to a different area of the world each year. Each subject will integrate the area’s culture into its lessons.
This year, students will learn about Asia and the Middle East. Students in band will learn to play music written by Asian composers, and English students will read Asian literature. Students can also take a course in Mandarin Chinese.
“I believe having a global perspective will definitely help our students acclimate into society more smoothly. Even though (students) may live in Flowery Branch their whole lives, they most certainly will encounter peoples from many nations even within the confines of Hall County,” Bridget Rodriguez, literature teacher, said.
With several international companies in the county, even students who stay close to home will likely benefit from being exposed to different world cultures before entering the workforce.
“We just feel like we need to step outside of Hall County and teach students there is a huge world out there and you are competing with so many other things,” Naughton said.
The school also plans to add a Junior ROTC program next year that will teach students leadership and discipline.
Several students are already participating in a leadership course with a school beautification project. Students will also have more opportunity to get involved with clubs.
Naughton said one of the biggest reasons students didn’t participate in clubs was because they interfered with their after-school schedule. To make it easier for students to get involved, their class schedules have been rearranged, leaving an hour for club involvement every other Wednesday.
At the end of four years, the students will present a senior portfolio with all of their best work. Naughton said the hope is the portfolio will help students see what their career interests are and how they learn best.
Naughton said he expects to see the real impact of the charter’s goals and objectives for students in the next year. He said it can be hard to gauge this early in the school year, but students seem excited about the new opportunities, particularly the senior portfolio.
Along with the charter status, the school was awarded a $400,000 grant.
“A lot of schools become a charter school because they get that grant money, but it’s a one-shot deal. We became a charter school because we wanted to do something a little different, outside of the mainstream public schools,” Naughton said.