The predictable nervous energy accompanying the first day of school at Millennium Charter Academy (MCA) Wednesday included considerable buzz about the facility’s new high school.
Dawn Banten, mother of three, had just dropped off her daughter, Lilly, at kindergarten. She had already seen off daughter Brianna at middle school and her son Ricky, a fifth grader, had made his transition from summer to classroom.
“Everything went well with Brianna and Ricky’s (departure) was peaceful,” said Banten. “Lilly was fine. It was the mothers who were not good. We were all just hovering. It’s only three hours today thank God so I’m hopeful (about making it through ).”
“It’s (the new high school) caused excitement even for next year,” said MCA Director of Development Lu Ann Browne in speaking of plans to grow the school to include high school grades. The school has traditionally only gone through eighth grade. “There is a noticeable excitement. Everyone has said such positive things. The amount of eighth graders who have stayed with us says a lot about the confidence in this among parents or our students as well.” She said the expansion, which could be completed as early as next month, required hiring faculty to fill six positions. The school also has added another kindergarten class for a total of four.
Browne said the high school will allow room for discussions as the classical education school moves to a “sage at the side” concept versus other educational models referred to “sage on the stage” and “guide to the side.” She told students the project was running behind schedule because officials had to work through U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s office to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood plain map updated so they could obtain building permits.
Upper School Director Pamela Braley said one program being offered for the high school students is the “Millennium Charter Colloquium.” She explained one purpose of classical education is to demonstrate the “wholeness or inter-connectedness of everything.”
The colloquiums will feature speakers, seminars and allow students to use their strengths to create projects such as art and music. The theme for the opening school colloquium is “body, mind and soul” and an upcoming event in October is titled “Technology and Human Flourishing.”
The school’s First Three Days program continues as well with the opening session centered on the groups organizing themselves into nations. Browne said this continues the academy’s mission of nurturing students who are citizens who can lead in a democracy.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.