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Newton career academy to finally open

Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith The Newton College & Career Academy, which will open to students and staff on Monday after being under construction for nearly two years, is a 181,000 square foot, three level building.

Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith The Newton College & Career Academy, which will open to students and staff on Monday after being under construction for nearly two years, is a 181,000 square foot, three level building.

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Jennifer Russell, a technology specialist with the Newton County School System, helps set up some of the computer equipment at the Newton College & Career Academy before it opens to students on Monday.

COVINGTON -- After nearly two years of construction, the Newton College & Career Academy will finally open to students on Monday.

In June 2010, crews broke ground over a parking lot adjacent to Newton High School on Ram Drive in Covington. In October 2010, MEJA Construction Inc. out of Jackson began construction of the 181,000-square-foot, three-level building.

The school originally was scheduled to open in January; however, weather and construction delays forced a later opening. The Newton County School System has operated a smaller program out of Alcovy High School since August.

"I'm proud of the fact that everybody has worked together to make it," said James Woodard, CEO/principal. "In my 25 years in (Career, Technical and Agriculture Education), I don't know of any other facilities as nice as this."

He said the Rockdale Career Academy has been a great partner in helping develop the site by providing tours of its school building and offering up tips and advice.

Woodard was quick to add that although NCCA is a state-of-the-art facility, "it doesn't stop there" -- internally, students and staff will have to work hard to make the school successful.

Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in the program. Next school year, about 500 students are expected to be enrolled and about 700 are projected for the following school year.

The school is being built for 800 students. It is open to any high school student in the Newton County School System.

The academy focuses on teaching work ready skills. Students are able to study the following programs: Agricultural Mechanics and Technology; Forestry/Natural Resources; Plant Science/Horticulture; Broadcast/Video Production; Construction; Transportation/Automotive Services; Finance, Accounting and Banking; Interactive Media/Web Design; Computer Systems Repair and Networking; Graphic Design, Communication and Print; Culinary Arts; Engineering and Manufacturing; Early Childhood Education; Government and Public Safety; Health Care; Cosmetology; and Marketing (Management, Sports and Fashion).

Base elective programs are offered at the three Newton County high schools that will feed into the more advanced programs at NCCA for mostly juniors and seniors.

The new building features a 200-plus seat lecture hall for school, system-wide and community events, as well as a school store that can be used a cafe. It also has a media center, mainly geared toward electronic technologies, and a cafeteria adjacent to the culinary arts program with a private dining room for special events.

The cosmetology program features styling stations, a facial center and a manicure/pedicure area that may eventually offer public services.

The public safety suite features a mock 911 communications center, a mock courtroom and a space for crime scene investigations, and the healthcare wing includes hospital beds and areas for testing.

The video broadcast rooms feature an audio booth and video room, and the graphic design studio has a dark room and printing press. Engineering, manufacturing, construction and automotive programs have lab areas with real world equipment and tools.

In the fall, NCSS plans to move the prekindergarten class from Porterdale Elementary School to the building for use of by the early childhood education program.

The school also features a work-based learning program, complete with a small business center. Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia Piedmont Technical College also will offer dual enrollment programs.

Advanced Placement courses also will be offered at the school.

Academic classrooms are spread throughout the building, complete with mobile desk stations and state-of-the-art computers and ipads. Energy efficient features include motion detected lights, waterless urinals and environmentally-friendly building materials.

The new school is being developed using $3.05 million in state grant funds awarded as part of the state Georgia Career Academy Project. The program also is using an $8,000 charter planning grant, $14,500 in Ford PAS Next Generation Learning grants, a $1,345,000 equipment grant and a $30,000 Remote Automation Management Project grant for equipment and software.

More information about attending the school is available by visiting www.newtoncareeracademy.org or talking to high school counselors.

The Newton County Board of Education is expected to tour the facility before Tuesday's monthly work session, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is scheduled to hold a special dedication ceremony at the school at 10:30 a.m. April 17.