Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Sixth graders Kyle Tolbert, left, and Nicholas Depkin are practicing guitar in music class at the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett. The 20 students in the nine-week class are learning to be quicker on their transition of chords.
COVINGTON -- About half of the new students who applied to attend the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett next year were accepted to the school.
Earlier this month, the Newton County School System mailed out acceptance letters to 196 new students who applied to the school in February. NCSS received 426 applications this year.
Those accepted include 105 rising kindergarteners, nine first-graders, 11 in each second and third grades, six fourth-graders, 21 fifth-graders, 18 sixth-graders and 15 seventh-graders.
According to NCSS, 53 applicants were deemed ineligible because of academic performance or discipline history.
Of the applicants, 174 were placed on the waiting list, including 50 kindergarteners, 34 first-graders, 32 second-graders, 20 third graders, 19 fourth-graders, three fifth-graders and 16 sixth-graders. Any open seats will be filled between now and the beginning of next school year in the order names were drawn from the lottery.
Currently, about 750 students are enrolled in the school, which first opened in 2009 at the Fairview Elementary School site before moving to the Ficquett Elementary School site this school year. This includes 101 kindergarteners, 99 first-graders, 142 second-graders, 114 third-graders, 99 fourth-graders, 93 fifth-graders and 69 sixth-graders who will move to the next grade next school year.
More than 900 students are expected to attend the school next school year.
Sixth grade was added this school year, and seventh grade will be added next school year when the current sixth-graders move up. Eighth grade is expected to be added the following year to accommodate those students.
Eventually, the school is expected to move into the current Eastside High School facility, when a replacement high school is built, according to the school system's facility plan.
The theme school follows the NCSS curriculum, and students also follow a dress code and certain behavioral expectations. Parents must volunteer for at least 20 hours each school year.
The school also has a special emphasis on reading -- students must read every day throughout the entire year, including the summer.
Next school year, the school plans to offer intramural sports for students; students also will be allowed to participate in sports program at their zoned home schools if they wish.
Special programs like Spanish and band also are expected to be added next year, and yearbook and fitness club already are offered.
Current school Principal Ruth Anne Smith announced her retirement earlier this month, and NCSS has yet to name a replacement after accepting applications and conducting interviews.