Families learn about school choices

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Jan. 15, 2014
Hartford Journalism and Media Academy’s Kellie Wagner answers questions that prospective high school students may have about the school. Photo by Lisa Stone.
Hartford Journalism and Media Academy’s Kellie Wagner answers questions that prospective high school students may have about the school. Photo by Lisa Stone.

Parents had the chance to explore their children’s scholastic future by attending the Regional School Choice Fair at Great Path Academy at Manchester Community College on Jan. 11.

Even parents of preschool-aged children wanted to learn about their options. “My daughter is going to be 3 years old in March,” said Audrey Akuamoah. “I am very interested in seeing what the magnet schools have to offer. That is why me and my sister have come here today.”

“I have friends that have their children in magnet schools and they are doing very well,” said Anita Akuamoah-Abankwah. “I am told that the magnet schools teach according to the child’s needs. They seem to take each student as an individual and they seem to understand the kids. It is like sending your child to a private school, but it is free.”

One of the many schools represented at the fair was Breakthrough II Magnet School. “We are a theme-based school,” said Katelin Hawley. “We promote learning for the entire child. We nurture the child’s character, manors, etiquette and several other aspects of the child. You can say that we educate the child from their head to their heart.” The school is open to students from 3 years old to eighth grade. Hawley said the school is proud to have an open-door policy. “If at any time the parent wants to come to observe their child or wants to see what is going on at school, they are welcome to do just that,” she said. “We have our security measures, of course, but we are a very close-knit, family-oriented school.”

If it was a high school that was what the parents were looking for, they may have had a face-to-face with Kellie Wagner of Hartford Journalism and Media Academy. “I wear many hats at my school. I teach, help with recruiting and help with professional development,” said Wagner. “I have had several parents as well as students come by and talk to me about my school today. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get important information about several schools that they may be interested in attending.” This high school is a part of the Hartford school system but is devoted to the theme of journalism. The students learn how to do a news broadcast, be a radio broadcaster, and work with online news, blogging and graphic design. Wagner said, “We are a small learning community. Students all know each other. Then entire school hosts no more than 400 students.”

Xyania Clarke is a freshman at JMA. “I like acting,” said Clarke. “This school has helped me to be comfortable with public speaking and allows me to have hands-on fun with cameras and other equipment. I like working in the green room the best. This school has given me more of a purpose in life.”

Dhanya Vadakkepat was looking for a school for her preschool-aged son. Hartford Pre-K Magnet School seemed to offer what she was looking for. “I am very concerned about my son’s future education,” said Vadakkepat. This school boasted about having three adults - one para-professional or CDA, one intern and a certified teacher - to every classroom. There is even after care available for parents that are not able to pick their child up at 2:45 p.m., which is the close of school. Hartford Pre-K is geared toward structured play. The representative explained that learning labs help prepare the students for school. “I am very glad I came to this fair,” added Vadakkepat.

The Regional School Choice Office school fairs feature booths and information about the wide array of programming options available to Hartford and suburban students from preschool to grade 12. Parents, grandparents, guardians and students spoke with staff from RSCO and its partners, the Capitol Region Education Council, Hartford public schools' Host Magnet Program, Hartford Region Open Choice districts, Goodwin College, the Connecticut technical high school system, Suffield’s Regional Agriscience Center, Bloomfield public schools and East Hartford public schools. At the fair, families also had the option of submitting an online application for the 2014-2015 RSCO lottery. The 2014-2015 lottery application period closes on Friday, Feb. 28. For more information on school fairs, information sessions and open houses, visit www.choiceeducation.org or call RSCO’s Parent Information Center at 860-713-6990.

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