No more D’s at one Fayette high school, a new magnet for another

Frederick Douglass High School will open in August.
Frederick Douglass High School will open in August. File photo.

D’s are gone from the grading scale at Bryan Station High School, and the new Frederick Douglass High School can move ahead with plans for a biomedical science magnet school as a result of approvals from the Fayette County Public Schools board last week.

In addition, both high schools have announced plans for career-oriented academies this fall that will draw on help from local businesses and agencies.

“Our staff is ready to quit talking about what needs to be done to ‘fix’ an old (and) broken educational system and start doing the things that truly prepare students to be academically ready for the future they choose beyond our walls,” Bryan Station High School Principal James McMillin told the Herald-Leader.

In the 2015-16 school year, McMillin eliminated extra credit at the school so that grades would be a more accurate reflection of what students know. In asking to eliminate the D from the grading scale, he has said he doesn’t want students to be rewarded with a D passing grade for giving minimal effort.

Both Bryan Station and Douglass will also offer small learning communities called career academies, which will allow students to connect what they're learning in the classroom with experiences that will help in careers when they graduate.

“The academy model allows us to create small learning communities for more relevant, rigorous and hands-on education around a career field that interests the student,” McMillin said. “We want to create opportunities for students to graduate with more than just a high school diploma, and that means we have to expose them to as many unique career and college pathways as we can. How else can we expect our students to make educated decisions when they leave our school?”

Both high schools will have an academy for freshmen that will focus on the transition from middle school to high school.

Bryan Station High will also offer an Engineering Academy; an IT Academy; a Leadership Academy with classes in finance, business management, culinary, hospitality and education, and a Medical Academy with classes in Pre-Nursing, Pharmacy Tech and health-related fields.

Officials at Douglass High School, which opens on Winchester Road in August, received school board approval to pursue a biomedical magnet school for the 2018-19 school year. As part of that magnet school, students can study the concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology and public health.

School board members have praised initiatives at both schools.

“The board’s approval of the Biomedical Sciences magnet program is a huge win for the students of Fayette County,” Douglass Academy Coach Shawn Hinds said, referring to the courses focused on developing the next generation of physicians, pharmacists and researchers. Students will be able to apply this fall in order to start in 2018-19.

Frederick Douglass High will also have the Academy of Technology and the Academy of Professional Services with classes in teaching and learning, entrepreneurship, finance and pre-law. The Academy of Medical Sciences will offer the biomedical sciences courses, nursing courses and health courses leading to careers in fields such as physical therapy and becoming an emergency medical technician.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears