KCS to launch three magnet programs
By Rebecca Rider
KANNAPOLIS — There’s just a year left until Kannapolis City Schools gets a makeover. Starting at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the small district will launch three magnet school programs for its elementary-aged students.
It’s a plan that’s been in the works for a long time, Ellen Boyd, director of community relations for Kannapolis City Schools, said. Boyd is one of the primary planners for the program.
“A big part of it is giving families more options,” she said.
The move was approved by the Kannapolis City Schools Board of Education in May, and the system will start reaching out to parents and the community in August.
Two of the magnet programs — a global studies focus and a Spanish immersion program — will double up at Fred L. Wilson Elementary, while the third, an arts academy, will spin out at the anticipated G.W. Carver Elementary School.
Boyd said that district staff studied and visited other successful magnet schools and then put their top choices to a parental vote — and these were the winners. They should also slip seamlessly into the rest of the system.
“These were the ones that seemed to fit best in our system,” she said.
And the three tracks should give students “new opportunities to shine.”
A+ Arts Academy
It won’t be long until the new Kannapolis Middle School building opens. When it does, the grade configuration in Kannapolis City Schools will shift, moving away from K-4 elementary schools and an intermediate program to the more common K-5 system. The doors will close on the Kannapolis Intermediate School building, which previously hosted grades five and six, and when it opens again it will begin a new life as the G.W. Carver Elementary School.
Because the building began life as a middle school, Boyd said it’s “ideal” for an arts school. The building boasts a music, band and art room, as well as space for dance studios.
Students who attend the academy will choose from dance, music, art and theater, and the arts will be integrated into core classes. Boyd said the academy perfectly matches the strong arts program available at A.L. Brown High School, giving students with a passion for the arts an opportunity to delve into the subject for the majority of their school career.
When it gets off the ground, the academy will partner with the Cabarrus Arts Council as well as with local artists, theaters and museums.
Global Network and Splash Spanish Language Immersion
Fred L. Wilson will host two of the three anticipated programs, with students learning Spanish and studying global culture in tandem. Boyd said the two programs work well together.
The school was chosen to host a language immersion rate because of its high Spanish-speaking population and low turnover rate — most students who start there in kindergarten stay for their entire elementary career, which makes it ideal for a language program.
“So that was a prime place to put a magnet school,” Boyd said.
Beginning in 2017, Spanish language immersion will be made available to kindergarten students only, expanding year by year.
“So it will take six years to fully build out the language immersion program,” Boyd said.
Students studying Spanish will have classes taught in English one day by a native English speaker, and in Spanish the next, with a teacher who is a native Spanish speaker. Ideally, Boyd said, half of the class would be native Spanish speakers and the other half would be native English speakers.
The system hopes to use its partnership with Visiting International Faculty — a program that recruits trained and qualified teachers from overseas — to teach on immersion days.
In time, Boyd said, the district would offer a language program at the middle and high school levels, and students could earn a translation certificate by the time they graduate.
But the global studies program will be instantly available to every student in the school.
“Global studies will be for everyone at the school and it will be woven into the every day,” Boyd said.
Each grade will spend the year learning about a different country, continent or area of the world, with the information folded into everyday learning. According to information available on the Kannapolis City Schools website, global studies would prepare students “to be successful in a global, multicultural economy.”
All three programs will be open to any students who live in the Kannapolis City Schools district. Students within the attendance zones of G.W. Carver and Fred L. Wilson will be guaranteed admission to the school. If there are extra seats, the district will open applications for students from other attendance zones.
The district will be hosting information sessions over the course of the 2016-17 school year, and applications for the programs will open January 2017.
If the schools are successful, Boyd said the district would look at expanding or adding programs in other schools.
“We’re definitely looking forward to it,” Boyd said.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.