By Johnny Jackson
Henry County school officials are expecting to fill seats for the district's new Academy for Advanced Studies fairly quickly this spring.
In August, a consortium of three of the area's higher-education institutions will coalesce under one roof to offer college-level instruction and training to Henry's young and old alike.
Clayton State University, Griffin Technical College (soon to be Southern Crescent Technical College), and Gordon College will partner with the Henry County School System this fall to offer courses in a newly-renovated wing of Henry County High School.
The school system opened the new wing at the school, located at 401 East Tomlinson Street in McDonough, in 2008. Renovations were also made to the older wing of the school, one of Henry's oldest.
The project totaled $33 million, paid for by the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax of 2007.
This fall, Clayton State and Gordon College plan to offer various courses at the academy that meet the University System of Georgia core curriculum requirements.
The courses may also be used to meet standards in the state's high school curriculum in a dual-enrollment program which enables high school students to take college courses while in high school.
Courses offered by Griffin Tech will permit students to get a head start on careers through the college's technical programs, designed for both adult and dual-enrollment students in allied health sciences, business, technology and public service.
"Griffin Technical College is proud to partner with the Academy for Advanced Studies to bring technical education to the citizens of Henry County," said Brent Mayes, vice-president for academic affairs at Griffin Tech. "The large variety of courses offered will allow students to prepare for numerous careers in today's workforce."
Gordon College, a two-year college based in Barnesville, will offer English composition, math, history and music appreciation, as well as some remedial course work for students before they start college.
"We at Gordon College hope that the courses at the academy will provide some interesting options for the more than 700 students from Henry County who attend Gordon, as well as new students," said Ed Wheeler, the college's vice president of academic affairs.
Clayton State is a four-year institution, based in Morrow. It will provide the academy with dual-enrollment courses in English composition and speech communications during the morning and American literature and sociology at night.
"We are excited about this opportunity to offer morning courses in Henry County, because it will allow more students to take advantage of the dual-enrollment program," said Kevin Demmitt, Clayton State's assistant vice president for academic outreach. "We are fortunate to have very strong support for this program from the Henry County School System and the community in general."
In order to take courses at the academy, students must either be a high school student in Henry County who qualifies for dual enrollment, or must be a high school graduate who has been admitted to one of the three institutions.
The registration process for the academy has not been decided, but will follow this year's regular registration for high school students, who will be required to provide their own transportation to attend the academy, according to school officials.
"We are very pleased to be involved in bringing more opportunities for higher education to the citizens of Henry County," said Michael Surma, superintendent of Henry County Schools. "With the classes held at the Academy for Advanced Studies at Henry County High School, we hope this will afford our students the advantage of early and local access to college courses."