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Academy for Advanced Studies opens in McDonough

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Dozens of adults in Henry County are turning out this week to take classes at Henry County Schools' Academy for Advanced Studies.

For those who have an interest in completing or continuing their post-secondary education, "this is a great opportunity," said Erin Dickey, an adult basic-education instructor at the academy. "A lot of them are ready to learn and are eager to learn."

Dickey works for Griffin Technical College - soon to be known as Southern Crescent Technical College - which offers free adult-education classes at the academy. The Academy for Advanced Studies was created by the Henry County Board of Education in order to provide post-secondary options to Henry residents.

The academy opened this week in the newly renovated wing of Henry County High School in McDonough.

According to school officials, the renovation - paid for by the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax of 2007 - was part of an extensive $33 million construction project to add classroom and office space to the once-crowded high school.

The academy serves high school and adult students throughout Henry County with the cooperation of three of the area's post-secondary institutions, Griffin Tech, Gordon College and Clayton State University.

Griffin Tech will offer free adult basic-education classes through the academy as well as some dual-enrollment classes in entrepreneurship and health services, said Dan Dewolf, who oversees the academy.

Gordon is a two-year college based in Barnesville that will provide core curriculum classes this fall in history, math, music, reading and English, he said. Clayton State will deliver courses in English, communications, and sociology for dual-enrollment and full- or part-time college students alike.

The academy, Dewolf said, has the potential to serve as many as 2,000 students during the evening and will provide a centralized location for Henry County residents to take college and post-secondary classes.

While several high school students are taking part in the academy's dual- and joint-enrollment options, many adults are taking advantage of Griffin Tech's free adult-education classes.

Griffin Tech's adult-education classes provide basic instruction in reading, mathematics and language, said the college's spokeswoman, Anna Taylor. Taylor said Griffin Tech anticipates serving between 600 and 800 people for the year.

Many have already gotten a jump start in Dickey's classroom, where she taught basic English composition for part of Wednesday morning.

Dickey said she was refreshed to find people so interested and eager to learn. It is one of the reasons, she said, she became an adult educator.

"I figured I could contribute to another adult's life," Dickey said. "It's actually a rewarding experience."

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On the net:

Henry County Schools: www.henry.k12.ga.us