WILMINGTON — There will be a number of changes and new courses in the 2016-17 school year at WHS, including Advanced Placement (AP) biology and chemistry.
Also starting this fall will be a pilot program with Great Oaks — sophomore exploration programs — in aviation and in construction and masonry technical skills.
For the exploration programs, WHS sophomores will spend half the day at the high school and half at the Laurel Oaks campus in Wilmington. Normally, only juniors and seniors attend Laurel Oaks.
“I was really excited that the Oaks reached out to us to help them pilot that program,” WHS Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart said after Monday’s school board meeting.
The job markets in the fields of aviation and construction look promising, she said.
Many of the changes and new options are a result of an extensive survey conducted last fall with parents, students and staff, said the principal. Survey respondents were supportive of adding AP courses and of having weighted credit which provides students added weight to their grade point averages to reward their taking a more rigorous course.
Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Ron Sexton said the high school probably had taken the most hits when the district made cuts in the wake of the local unemployment and economic crisis that began in 2008.
He explained district officials believed that if cuts had to be made, it was better not to make them in the elementary grades where they wanted to maintain smaller class sizes for more individualized attention.
The high school currently offers two AP courses: AP Literature & Composition and AP Psychology. In 2016-17, that selection will be expanded by four more courses: AP Language & Composition, AP Calculus, AP Biology and AP Chemistry.
Established by the College Board in 1955, the AP program is intended as a challenging academic program that offers motivated students with college-level courses.
McCarty-Stewart said AP courses do a good job of preparing students for their first year of college, and allows students to accelerate in college.
The “CP” or “college prep” designation will be removed from WHS classes, and instead there will be “honors” courses — extended courses beyond what was previously CP, said the principal.
There will be three new course offerings in English Language Arts: Avid Readers, Analyzing Film, and AP Language & Composition.
Some of the additional new course offerings include French II, the second phase of Principles of Engineering (a pre-engineering program), Directing, and Speech Communications is being brought back.
The pre-engineering program is possible through a partnership with Great Oaks, with the classes held at the WHS campus. According to Sexton, one of the aspects of the planned four-year pre-engineering program is aeronautics.
Another change at WHS this coming fall will be weighted credit for AP and honors courses.
Sexton said currently there are students afraid to take a very tough class because they don’t want to get a B. Weighted credit, he said, encourages such students because their grade point average will not drop as much if they were to get a B in those classes. A B grade in an Advanced Placement course translates to 4 points, and a B in an honors course translates to 3.5 points.
The new courses and changes will not involve hiring new staff, said Sexton. He added the changes will increase “the rigor and expectations for our students and staff.”
In other news from the school board meeting:
• The board approved awarding a contract to Capitol Aluminum & Glass Corp. to replace all windows at the high school. The project’s cost is $254,800. It will be paid out of the School Facilities Fund set aside for maintenance, and not from the General Fund.
• Clinton County Auditor Terence “Terry” G. Habermehl attended the meeting and told the board the real estate assessment account and revenue estimates allow him as auditor to give $200,000 back to the county’s political subdivisions, including school districts. Accordingly, he presented a $59,581 check to WCS.
In the past, he said he reduced fees rather than present checks.
• The board accepted two donations: $300 to Wilmington Middle School Project Trust from an anonymous donor; and a binding machine donated by Terry and Mary Beth Habermehl, approximate value of $250.
• A Nov. 22 to Nov. 26, 2016 out-of-state field trip was approved for the WHS marching band program to attend the Performance In Disney Education of the Arts Program in Orlando, Florida.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.