Central’s 865 Academy focus of FCBPA meeting

Beth KinnaneFountain City, Our Town Youth

It was all about the Bobcats at Wednesday’s meeting of the Fountain City Business and Professional Association. As the school year winds down, the FCBPA is recognizing outstanding students, and its Give campaign for the month is focused on gift bags for Central High School’s graduating seniors.

Fittingly, the guest speakers for the lunch meeting were Central assistant principals Danielle Rutig and Bill Baldwin. Each is a principal in one of the three new CHS 865 Academies that kick off with entering freshman for the 2023-24 school year. Baldwin is principal of the Academy of Automotive Services & Technology while Rutig is principal of the Academy of Business & Design.

CHS assistant principal Danielle Rutig

Both took turns explaining to Fountain City business leaders the benefits of this new program, the externships and potential certifications students can have in hand upon leaving school. Rutig noted that Central’s library will undergo a major renovation which includes a coffee shop that will be run by students, pointing to the hands-on/real word experiences the academies are designed to provide. She also discussed the nursing education track in the Health & Life Science Academy.

“Those students will complete a series a of courses, and if they’re successful, they can then leave high school as a Certified Nursing Assistant,” she said, adding that those students would be employment ready and able to work while pursuing a higher nursing degree if they wanted to.

Baldwin discussed similar opportunities as well as lining up externships and internships with sponsors within the various academies. Which is great for the students who fit/are interested in those academies and the opportunities they offer.

CHS assistant principal Bill Baldwin

But what about the students who don’t, who are more interested in a college prep type liberal arts and/or STEM education? Rutig said those students would still be asked to select a path “but that does not limit their opportunities for other electives.” She added that students, on a case by case basis, who want to focus on advanced academics, will still have room for that in their schedules, adding that concerned parents should set up a meeting regarding their child’s interests.

However, the Freshman Academy class plus a minimum of three academy courses across a high school career still remove four opportunities for preferred coursework for the students who don’t fit those tracks. Only eight of Knox County high schools are in the first cohort of academies, and the courses are not required for a high school diploma in the state of Tennessee.

Additionally, the 865 Academies are not the same across the participating schools. L&N STEM, Hardin Valley, Farragut and Bearden are the only ones offering academies that mirror college prep tracks with STEM, liberal arts and/or engineering academies. Knox County has three high schools eligible for UT’s Flagship Scholarships: Central, Austin-East Magnet and Fulton, yet none of these 865 Academy schools have a traditional college prep academy. Stay tuned.

Before the guest speakers, the FCBPA honored two CHS students with their Athlete of the Year awards. Caroline Cooper has been a member of the dance team throughout high school. She was voted Most Dependable by her classmates, is in the top 10% of her class with a weighted GPA of 4.39 and is a section leader with Bobcat Company among her many accolades. Cole Ballenger was voted Best All Around by his classmates and presented with the “heart of a champion” trophy by his football coaches for outstanding leadership and character. He’ll be graduating with a GPA of 3.76.

The FCBPA is currently asking for monetary donations for its annual CHS Scholarship Fund. The 2023 recipient will be announced this evening at Central’s Honors Night. The FCBPA is also sponsoring the Concert in the Park at Fountain City Park, Saturday, June 17, from 4-7 p.m. including food trucks and kids’ activities. Vendor booths are still available. For more information go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com

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