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School guidance officials promote rigorous classes

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

During a seminar for parents of high school students Thursday night, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, Charles R. Drew High School Lead Counselor Benita Cochran told approximately 150 parents and students that high schoolers should give honors-level and Advanced Placement (AP) courses a try - if the courses fit the individual pupil.

Clayton County Public Schools' Guidance and Counseling Department provided two seminars on Thursday, one in the morning and another in the evening, to educate parents on what courses are needed to graduate from high school, as well as the best courses a student can take to prepare for post-secondary education.

"I encourage everyone to take an honors and AP course," Cochran said. "They need to try it because that is the level of rigor they are going to see when they get to college."

Clayton County Public Schools Guidance and Counseling Department Coordinator Ken Sanders said the purpose of the seminars was to educate parents on what classes their children need to take, such as two years of a foreign language, or four years of science, to earn a high school diploma.

"We want parents to be aware of the graduation requirements so when their child selects courses, they are choosing the right ones," Sanders said.

In advocating the rigors of AP and honors-level courses, Cochran said students should only pursue those classes in the subjects they are interested in, because of the high level of rigor involved in the curriculum. "Take the classes where you know you can earn a B," she said. "C's are not acceptable. I know they're available, but once you get a C, you're on a slippery slope that you don't want to be on."

In addition to advocating participation in rigorous courses, the parents and students also heard Drew High School Guidance Counselor Bridget Zokovitch talk about how students earn credits for graduation. Students have to earn 22 credits (if they are currently juniors or seniors), or 23 credits (if they are currently freshmen or sophomores) to graduate from public schools in Georgia, Zokovitch said.

Sanders said there is a difference because the Georgia Department of Education implemented a new set of graduation requirements for students who entered high school during the 2008-2009 school year. A fourth year of science has been added to the requirements, Sanders said. He also said the diploma distinctions of "College Preparatory" and "Technical/Career Prep" have been done away with.

Sanders said the department's PowerPoint presentation on which high school courses to take will be available on the school system's web site sometime next week, for parents who were not able to attend either of the sessions on Thursday.

The next parent-information session will take place Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the performing arts center, which is located at 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway, in Jonesboro. There will be a morning session, at 8:30 a.m., and an evening session, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.