Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, center, helps cut the ribbon for the official opening of the Newton College & Career Academy, alongside Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews and NCCA student Ashley Greene, a member of the student associate board of directors. Currently about 250 students are enrolled in classes at NCCA and about 500 students are expected next school year. - Staff Photo: Erin Evans
COVINGTON -- Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle visited the Newton College & Career Academy Tuesday to celebrate the school's official grand opening.
The academy, which had been operating out of Alcovy High School this school year until last week when construction was finished on the standalone permanent building adjacent to Newton High School in Covington, has been on the minds of officials at the Newton County School System and members of the Newton County Board of Education for nearly 15 years.
"This has been an exciting project," said James Woodard, CEO/principal of the school. "(The opening of the school) marks a milestone for this community."
In December 2009, Cagle's state Career Academy Project awarded NCSS in conjunction with DeKalb Technical College, which is now Georgia Piedmont Technical College, $3.05 million in state grant funds to develop the school. Later, NCSS also secured 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.
Cagle said he launched his career academy initiative in 2007 to serve more students' needs, train them better for job openings and create more pathways for their success in colleges and the workplace.
"A one-size fits all model doesn't work in our educational system," he said Tuesday. "The world is changing before our very eyes, and in many ways for the good."
He said college and career academies help students better prepare for the workplace and postsecondary institutions and should help them better compete in a worldwide marketplace in a 21st century economy.
"We're going to have to have our children prepared," he said, adding that oftentimes students drop out of school because they don't see relevance in what they are learning in traditional schools.
Cagle foresees "a very bright future" for the Newton County community, filled with more trained students and job creation.
"Everywhere college and career academies are opening, we're seeing huge economic opportunities," he said, adding that all of the 26 academies in Georgia have a nearly 98 percent graduation rate and get nearly perfect student placements in skilled jobs and colleges.
"(The academies) are our future," Cagle said.
Also at the event were current and former members of the Newton County BOE, members of the Newton County Board of Commissioners and other state and local offices, Newton County Chamber of Commerce leaders, the NCCA board of directors and student associate board of directors, teachers and administrators and other community leaders.