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New this year: foreign teachers, gender-divided classes

August 30, 2005|By Julie Cook

No major renovations have occurred and no new facilities have opened this school year in Washington County Public Schools, but changes are occurring in middle and high schools.

More programs are being offered, giving students a variety of options from which to choose. In addition, many new teachers, including those with the Visiting International Faculty program, have filled positions in all of our area high schools.

- Boonsboro High School students were welcomed back with new floor tiles and carpeting. Two additional classrooms also were added over the summer due to the school enrollment increasing from about 950 to 1,050 students, according to BHS Principal Martin Green.

Boonsboro also has started an Academic Academy for this school year. English, social studies and science will be taught in all-boys and all-girls classes for the top ninth- and 10th-grade students.

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Plus, along with many new teachers, Boonsboro has a new athletic director and a few new coaches.

- Western Heights Middle School also has undergone renovations for this school year to make room for Antietam Academy, which has been moved into the school's lower level. Jennifer Ruppenthal, principal of Western Heights, said that the school will start an antibullying program.

n At South Hagerstown High School, a Wellness Center opens this year and any student who attends SHHS can enroll. A nurse practitioner will be there three times a week, allowing students to be diagnosed and treated for illnesses, given preventive care and given access to mental heath services.

Also, SHHS Principal Richard Akers said that South High has started the school year with more than 30 new teachers, including three foreign teachers who are part of the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program.

- Williamsport High School has 11 new staff members, including two VIF teachers for foreign languages. According to John Davidson, principal of WHS, the school has expanded Project Lead the Way, a course focusing on engineering.

- Twelve teachers are new to North Hagerstown High School this year, in addition to Principal Valerie Novak, who transferred from Smithsburg High School. Along with collecting public and private funds for their new stadium project, North is starting an International Baccalaureate Program, coordinated by Kevin Jackson. Thirty-four students have registered for this program, which offers higher levels of English, biology and physics. These classes will be available to the participating ninth- and 10th-graders, along with math, psychology, theory, four languages, computer science and visual arts.

- Clear Spring High School has started an Environmental Academy, which, according to Principal Michael Shockey, will prepare students for careers in agriculture and biotechnology. New and transfer teachers also have started the school year at Clear Spring.

- Changes in the curriculum also come into effect for the 2005-06 school year. Algebra is being offered to seventh-graders at some middle schools, including Western Heights.

- New this year, ninth-graders will need to pass the High School Assessments in order to graduate, according to Boyd Michael, executive director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools. Also, extended English, biology and government instruction will be offered for struggling high school students, he said.

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