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Newton County Theme School accepting applications

COVINGTON -- Parents interested in enrolling their children in the Newton County Theme School can pick up or download an application beginning Friday.

The school will accept applications for new students -- including siblings of students who currently attend the Theme School -- throughout the month of February.

The Theme School first opened for the 2009-10 school year and at that time was located at Fairview Elementary School. This year, sixth grade was added and the school moved to Ficquett Elementary School. Seventh grade will be offered in 2012-13 and eighth grade will be added the following year.

The Theme School follows the Newton County School System curriculum, but students who attend must adhere to a dress code and higher behavioral expectations. Parents must commit to volunteering at the school for at least 20 hours throughout the school year.

Dr. Ken Proctor, executive director for elementary schools with the Newton County School System, said that 759 students are currently enrolled in the school.

He said that the school can accept for the 2012-13 school year the following number of students:

-- Kindergarten -- 105;

-- First grade - 110;

-- Second grade - 110;

-- Third grade - 145;

-- Fourth grade - 120;

-- Fifth grade - 120;

-- Sixth grade - 110; and

-- Seventh grade - 90.

A lottery will be held March 9 if more students apply than can be accommodated. Acceptance letters will be mailed March 16. A waiting list will be made in the order the names were drawn in the lottery to fill any seats that become available between March 16 and the beginning of school, according to the NCTS PTO website.

This is the first year middle school classes have been offered at the Theme School. Proctor said 75 students are enrolled in sixth grade, and he does not expect a large number of new middle school students will apply to NCTS.

"I believe the way we will grow the school is by students matriculating up to the next grade level," he said. "Our current sixth-grade class will probably roll into seventh. I don't anticipate a large number of new applicants, although we have the space."

In the meantime, NCTS is continuing to add extracurricular activities for middle-schoolers. A number of clubs, such as yearbook or fitness club, are available for sixth-graders. The school is looking at ways to allow middle school students to participate in sports, as well.

Proctor said the school is expected to add band and a foreign language to the curriculum next year.

Baxter Bouchillon, president of the NCTS PTO, said an informational session will be held for prospective students and their parents at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the cafeteria at NCTS.