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Fountaindale magnet school 'ready to roll'

August 17, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools' first magnet school program for academically gifted students has a school and teachers, and now it has students.

Forty-five students were accepted into the gifted program, which will be part of the Fountaindale School for Arts and Academic Excellence, the school system said this week. Thirty-two of the students are from Fountaindale, Paramount, Potomac Heights and Pangborn elementary schools, which were given priority for acceptance into the program.

The other 13 students in either the combined second/third-grade class or the combined fourth/fifth-grade class came from Eastern, Bester, Greenbrier, Boonsboro, Fountain Rock and Salem Avenue elementary schools or from private schools, according to school system figures.

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"I'm very pleased. I'm glad to see the interest from the other schools," Board of Education President Edward Forrest said. "It's set and ready to go, and I'm anxious to see the progress."

"We're ready to roll. We're ready to open school," Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

Morgan had said the program would be limited to 40 students, but there were so many students with high test scores the program was expanded slightly, she said.

There were 102 applications for the gifted program. Letters were to be mailed to those who were not accepted, Morgan said.

Students were selected for the program based on several factors including interviews, standardized test scores and a questionnaire.

The program will have 23 students in the second/third-grade class and 22 in the fourth/fifth-grade class.

There will be enhanced art and music classes for all Fountaindale students. The classes will include computer graphics, painting, dance and drama, choral music and instrumental music.

Morgan has said all Fountaindale students will begin learning to play the piano using small keyboards in kindergarten and then be taught another instrument, probably violin, beginning in third grade.

She said the enhanced programs at Fountaindale will cost about $80,000 above normal spending.

Students in the gifted program who live outside the Fountaindale area are responsible for transportation to the school.

The magnet programs, so named because they tend to attract students, will help bring some "voluntary redistricting" to the area, Morgan has said.

The program also establishes more educational choices for parents and students, she said.

"A lot of the special programs are aimed at low achieving students ... But we can't neglect the students who are highly able," Morgan said.

Morgan said she hopes Fountaindale will be the first of many county schools offering special programs.

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