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Role Models' first class shrinks

August 17, 2000

Role Models' first class shrinks



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The first group of students to attend the Role Models America Academy Inc., scheduled to open this fall at the former Fort Ritchie Army base, will be smaller than academy officials previously announced.

About 50 students from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia will be enrolled the first semester at the military-style school, Principal Jimmy Jones said.

Role Models officials previously said the school would open with 100 students and would be at capacity with 535 students next spring.

Jones gave no explanation for the change.

The school is scheduled to open in late fall. Jones said he was not ready to give an opening date but would do so by Sept. 29. He also said he was not ready to say when the school would reach full capacity.

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The Department of Labor has awarded the organization a $10 million grant. That grant comes with some requirements, including one that the academy open this fall with a demonstration project for up to 50 students, Jones said.

The government will inspect the academy's facilities this fall. Role Models expects to have no problem meeting all requirements, Jones said.

Jones described the academy's concept to the Washington County Board of Education during the board's Tuesday meeting.

School Board members praised the plan.

"This is a good way to utilize the facility and a better way to utilize the kids," Board Member J. Herbert Hardin said.

"I look forward to the time when you have a waiting list of students to enter your school," said Board Member B. Marie Byers.

The Dematha Catholic High School in Huyettsville, Md., is helping develop the curriculum.

As part of the curriculum students will gain a "high degree of competency with computers," Jones said.

Role Models is leasing space from the PenMar Development Corp. at the former Army base and has said it plans to make an offer to buy the entire base.

Robert Alexander, Role Models' founder and president, has said the organization expects to receive four other $10 million annual grants, although it doesn't have written commitments for the full five years.

Labor spokesman David Stewart said this week that only $10 million has been promised to the group so far.

Alexander did not return phone calls Thursday.

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