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College, career academy serving higher number of students

Cousins Middle School students toured the engineering and manufacturing lab at the Newton College and Career Academy, which hosted the Newton County Science Fair finalist awards on Friday. Career Academy seniors Josh Brooks (center) and Anthony Andriulli (right) explain the operation of a computer-controlled milling machine. Staff photos: Lee Depkin

Cousins Middle School students toured the engineering and manufacturing lab at the Newton College and Career Academy, which hosted the Newton County Science Fair finalist awards on Friday. Career Academy seniors Josh Brooks (center) and Anthony Andriulli (right) explain the operation of a computer-controlled milling machine. Staff photos: Lee Depkin

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Career Academy senior Anthony Andriulli demonstrates use of a CAD, or computer aided design, program to the middle school students.

COVINGTON -- The Newton College and Career Academy is attracting students and the community to its school.

This school year, more than 600 students are attending the school; only 550 students were projected to be enrolled at the school this year.

"I think it's a direction this community certainly needed and it's been very beneficial to a large number of students," Danny Stone, chair of the academy's Board of Directors, recently told the Newton County Board of Education. "You've given these students an opportunity to find out not only what they want to do in the future, but what they don't want to do in the future."

At the school, which is open to any student in the county, 212 students, or 35 percent of the school, is made up of students from Alcovy High School; 256, or 43 percent, from Newton High School; and 134, or 22 percent, from Eastside High School.

"The diversity of programs is talking to kids," said academy Principal James Woodard about the school's nearly 20 career pathways.

The school is mainly geared to upper high school grade levels and serves 170, or 28 percent, 10th-graders; 239, or 40 percent 11th-graders; and 193, or 32 percent, 12th-graders.

Of those, 66 percent of students enrolled are female and 34 percent are male; and 69 percent are black, 23 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian and 3 percent multiracial. Woodard said his department is researching ways to make sure all groups are targeted and see if there is any need for growth in certain areas.

The most popular career majors at the academy are culinary arts, healthcare science and business, and 178, or 29 percent of its population, is in a college dual enrollment program.

The school has attracted more than a dozen other school systems from across the state to get a closer look at its campus. With three of those, NCCA assisted with preparing a proposal for the Georgia Career Academy grant and helped them secure grants, as NCCA did to develop its campus -- the school was developed using $3.05 million in state grant funds awarded as part of the state Georgia Career Academy Project.

The school building also is used for system professional development and training, and the community has used it for Girl Scouts registration, Newton County Chamber of Commerce tours and special events and industry tours for businesses like Newton Medical Center and Georgia Power. Woodard reported to the school board that more than 5,000 people have used the building or visited since July.

Individual school counselors will continue to be the liaison to help funnel more students into the school and connect them to the proper pathway.

In the future, about 800 students are expected to fill the school, which opened in August 2011 at Alcovy High School and in its permanent building behind Newton High School in April 2012.