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Military-style school to open at Fort Ritchie

October 09, 2000

Military-style school to open at Fort Ritchie



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


A new military-style boarding school for high-school dropouts will open to students next week at the former Fort Ritchie Army base, the school principal said Monday.

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A week of testing, registration and other activities begins Monday at the National Role Models Academy. Classes begin a week later on Oct. 23, said Jimmie Jones, a retired Army colonel who is principal and commandant at the school.

The year-round school is funded entirely by government grants and is free for the students, Jones said.

To enroll at the school, students must be between 16 and 19 years old, have dropped out after starting the ninth grade, had at least a C average in school when they dropped out, and "have no problems with the law and no drug use," Jones said.

"It's a second chance for kids who, for whatever reason, dropped out," he said. "This is a great thing for America."

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According to Jones, about 700,000 high-school students drop out nationwide each year and about 45,000 of those students had at least a C average when they left school.

In August, Jones said that about 50 students from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia are expected for the school's first semester. He declined to say Monday how many students will be attending the school.

Eventually, students will have to be nominated by a congressman or senator for acceptance to the school, and the school's ultimate enrollment will be 535 students, Jones said.

Next week's activities are officially called BAAAT Camp, which stands for Behavior Attitude Assessment Adjustments Testing, Jones said.

The school will issue high school diplomas and computer skill certificates, Jones said. All the students will participate in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, he said.

Jones said a special relationship with a college is being developed, but he would not identify the college.

Jones said this is the first school of its kind in the country and that Role Models hopes to open similar schools elsewhere in the future.

Jones would not answer questions about the school's finances, other than saying the school is entirely grant-funded. He said he was hired to run the school and was leaving the "political" questions for others at the school.

Robert Alexander, Role Models' founder and president, didn't return telephone messages left at his office Monday.

In August, Role Models officials said the organization had been awarded a $10 million grant from the Department of Labor.

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