ECMPS students prepare for academic challenges

Published 7:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Area students are preparing for the transition from spending the hot summer days outside playing ball or swimming to spending hours doing math, science and English assignments at school.
Forty-two Escambia County Middle School eighth grade students are preparing for an extra feat as they will become a part of the inaugural Escambia County Middle Preparatory School.
According to ECMS principal, Zickeyous Byrd, the students will begin taking extra courses, which will help them prepare for their transition into high school.
"The preparatory school is a magnet school that follows the preparatory theme," Byrd said. "It is to prepare students to go far and beyond. They will take high school credit courses during middle school, which will allow them to take advanced courses in high school."
The students in the preparatory school will take some of their ninth grade classes along with their eighth grade courses.
"We are asking the students to complete all of their eighth grade requirements and half of the ninth grade requirements," Byrd said.
The 42 students in the ECMPS will have the opportunity to take biology, algebra and Spanish. According to Byrd, future courses will include art and dance. Teachers for the courses include, biology, Yolanda Walters; algebra, Catherine Tims and Spanish, Joanne Dailey.
Byrd said hopefully next year more than 42 students will be able to take the preparatory courses, but this year the funding would not allow it.
"This year we only opened it up to 45 students simply because we didn't have the funding for it," he said. "We had to do 'creative funding' this year for the program to occur. Hopefully next year the district will support it and we will be able to offer the program to all students that qualify."
There are qualifications that the students must meet before being accepted into the preparatory school. Students must be in the eighth grade. Also, a committee looks at academic and behavioral success during fifth and sixth grades and especially seventh grade to make sure they've done well. Parental support is also considered when choosing the students for several reasons, but one of the reasons is because of the time the students meet.
"We can't afford the transportation to school at 7 a.m., when the students must be here, so the parents have to drop them off at 7 a.m. whereas other classes start at 7:50 a.m.," Byrd said.
Byrd said the reason for initiating the program was because he wanted students in Atmore to have the same opportunities as students in other school systems.
"I believe our children should be exposed to everything our system has to offer," Byrd said. "I wanted our children to have the opportunity to have the program like Mobile and Baldwin County systems have."
Byrd said he is happy to provide the preparatory school to students and asks for the communities support when school begins Aug. 9.
"We are excited to be able to offer this great opportunity to our students," he said. "We would love to have the support of the community and businesses so we can make our students well-rounded students."
See class photos on Page 9A.

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