Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield is asking the business community to forge more ties with local students.
The comments were part of an educational update at a South Hall Business Coalition meeting Tuesday at Lanier Charter Career Academy.
One way to do that, Schofield said, is to take advantage of the new hospitality businesses at Lanier. The Oaks, a part of the school, is a new area where students manage and operate five businesses, including a coffee shop and gift store.
"We have some incredibly gifted students who could be an asset," he said. "With our business partners, we want to ask ‘What can we do for you?'"
The speech included an overview of student programs and projects at the school, such as a marketing campaign to drive local spending.
Marketing teacher Rachael McClain said her students are studying shopping and traffic patterns in Hall County and will conduct online surveys. Students also are looking at ways for businesses to offer a service similar to Groupon, which offers specific coupons each day.
"We don't want just a two-week campaign, we want something that has a long-standing impact for Hall County," McClain said.
Academy Principal Cindy Blakley provided updates on the businesses, informing the crowd that the school's fine dining bistro will open in six weeks and the coffee shop drive-through will open in two weeks. Several businesses, such as the meeting and events company, are open.
She added the school is beginning a scholarship fund with the tip money students receive.
"The pot is growing, and I think that speaks to the integrity of the students," Blakley said.
In the long term, Schofield said a goal for the academy is to provide education programs for adults, such as a grandparent and grandchild participating in a cooking class together.
Because of the school's proximity to Lanier Technical College, Schofield said he also hopes to see the schools share resources.
Schofield touched on a wide range of other issues, including reading and graduation goals, and technology.
One of the district's goals is to have 90 percent of elementary school students reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade.
"If children read well by the age of 8, a lot of challenges we face later in life fade away," Schofield said.
He also noted at the high school level, the district will take an early college approach. The goal is to have 50 percent of high school students graduate with some type of post-secondary degree.
To help lower costs, Schofield said the district is increasing its teleconference technology to offer classes in multiple locations. As middle school students are learning Mandarin Chinese via teleconference, high school students are taking Calculus II with students from Georgia Technical College freshmen, he said.
In the near future, he said, "we could be having classes in four, five or 10 locations."