Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe College’s charter school recruits prospective county parents

Sante Fe College’s new STEM-focused charter school will offer students the chance to work in healthcare and technology fields right out of high school.

SFC’s Academy of Science and Technology, a new charter school initiative that will be run inside of the college’s northwest campus at 3000 NW 83 St, will offer students starting in ninth grade an associate’s of science degree in addition to a high school diploma. At a Thursday night meeting, prospective parents learned more about programs and application processes.

Before the meeting, Howard Bishop Middle School parent Antonio Desue said he admired that students will be working toward a high school diploma and a degree.

The school will accept the first 75 people. Once they hit 76, students will be chosen by a lottery system. Desue is rooting for his daughter to get a spot, he said.

“Opportunities like this are very slim,” Desue said.

At the school, students can choose from four different degrees: biotechnology laboratory technology, surgical technology, computer information technology and information technology security.

Sharon Whitcract, department chair of SF’s Allied Health Programs, will work with high school students under the surgical technology degree. The healthcare field is in great demand in Gainesville, Whitcract said.

“The program prepares students to become healthcare providers who work in the operating room,” Whitcraft said, explaining roles such as x-ray technicians have a high starting hourly pay. “It’s a short hop to a really nice career that could take you much further.”

At the meeting, Principal Willam McElroy and curriculum coordinator Adrian DeBose unveiled a curriculum plan. Students will take general education classes initially and within two years, they’ll transition to associate’s degree courses once they show college-readiness.

The school benefits students who want to go into these industries. But one aspect of the school experience is lacking for Allison Lawrence — no extracurricular activities will be offered.

Students can participate in extracurricular activities at zoned high schools while attending the charter school, said Executive Director of Secondary Programs Jen Homard.

Lawrence, Fort Clarke Middle School parent, comes from a long line of college graduates and has a doctorate degree.

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She believes the program has a lot of potential, but has other concerns. Her daughter is zoned for Buchholz High School. She worries this charter school will take away what high school is all about — extracurriculars, activities and fun.

“For me, the concern is … whether or not she is going to miss out on the traditional high school experience,” she said.

Students can participate in extracurricular activities at zoned high schools while attending the charter school, said Executive Director of Secondary Programs Jen Homard.

The charter school will offer students food services, providing lunches from Alachua County public schools and transportation, using the RTS bus service. If students show their SFC ID, they’ll receive a free trip.

Opening the school is a collaborative effort, as presenters spanned multiple areas of the college from the police department to the counseling center.

“We’re all coming together on a very regular basis making sure we are meeting the needs, not only of the (state) statues, but also the needs of the community and the programs we’re about to offer,” Homard said.

Contact Kennedy at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kennedymason125.

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