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mONTGOMERY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Magnet Programs Help Students Achieve Their Dreams

Summer 2012

By David Zaslawsky

 

In the local community, it is common knowledge that the Montgomery Public Schools district operates a magnet program.

Some of the magnet programs at the high school level are common knowledge, including Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP), Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and Booker T. Washington (BTW) Magnet High School.

It may not be common knowledge that the number of students in the high school magnet programs is more than 1,500.

It may not be common knowledge that there is an extensive magnet program for elementary school students and 1,800-plus participate in that program.

It may not be common knowledge that more than 1,100 students participate in magnet programs at the middle school level.

It may not be common knowledge that there are nine magnet schools in the district.

That’s right. The magnet program is so much more than LAMP and BTW and Brewbaker, but LAMP does deserve some special attention. LAMP students historically are among the state’s and country’s top scholars. One year, seven of the 10 National Achievement Semifinalists from Montgomery attended LAMP. A LAMP graduate is a Rhodes Scholar Finalist. All 10 of the school’s Merit Semifinalists advanced this year and six Achievement Semifinalists also advanced in the scholarship competition.

During a recent school year, LAMP as well as Booker T. Washington and Brewbaker Technology had graduation rates of 100 percent.

One year ago, graduating students at LAMP combined to receive nearly $8.7 million in scholarships. Now, add Brewbaker Technology’s seniors with $2.1 million and BTW with nearly $2.1 million and that’s a lot of money for college scholarships – almost $13 million.

An aerospace academy has been added to Brewbaker Technology High School. “It gives students an opportunity to find what aerospace is all about,” said Tom Salter, senior communications officer for Montgomery Public Schools (MPS). He said that NASA helped develop the curriculum and students have an opportunity to learn from experts in the field.

Some of the courses will be about fundamental space flight concepts, electrical systems, kinematics and hydrostatics concepts, according to Caroline Novak, president of A+ Education Partnership. She said that in advanced classes in the Aerospace Academy, students will design and test launch vehicles and build propulsion and guidance systems.

The Aerospace Academy is part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Preparation for Tomorrow initiative.

The district expanded its magnet program by establishing a Carr Academic Magnet School. Most of the magnets are geared for high-performing students. At LAMP, there are 16 Advanced Placement courses available.

Booker T. Washington offers a wide range of performing and visual arts, which includes dance, drama and music. The school also features a Center for Advanced Technology; 21st Century Academy for Careers in Law; and Academy for Communication Arts.

At Brewbaker Technology, students can choose to study architecture/engineering; building sciences; commerce and technology; graphic design; information technology; medical and aerospace.

When it comes to middle schools, Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet offer both arts and challenging academics, which includes foreign languages and computer technology. Students in the arts magnet can choose between band, string instruments, piano, classical guitar, creative writing, dance and visual arts.

Meanwhile, MacMillan International Academy at McKee, an elementary school, offers classes in humanities, technology, communication and international studies.

At Carver Arts Magnet School, which is part of Carver Elementary, students can study string instruments, piano, classical guitar, instrumental music, choral music, classical dance and visual art.

“The magnet programs allow kids that have specific interests to really delve deeply into those areas like science and math or performing arts,” Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Thompson said. “If that’s your passion – performing arts and dance – it allows you to excel in that area and you are probably going to do better as a student because our (traditional) schools will not have that commitment to classical guitar, dance or the piano.”

“The kids who are in those areas probably have discovered very early on that it is an aptitude or strength area for them. They will more than likely end up in some area related to that strength area or certainly it will be a passionate hobby in the future.”

The key is that students must maintain a required grade-point average, which is incentive to do well in all courses to pursue their passion.