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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Attraction of Magnets

Good news!

I just found out that Nicolas got into:

The William G. Enloe GT/IB Center for the Humanities, Sciences, and the Arts, more commonly called Enloe High School (EHS).  Enloe is a Wake County public magnet, Gifted & Talented, and International Baccalaureate high school located in east Raleigh, North Carolina.

So, I more or less 'freaked' out two weeks ago when I got notification from Nicolas' eighth-grade counselor that it was time to select courses for ninth grade.  I looked through the booklets of course offerings from the 'base' school versus the magnet school and started to get concerned.  A full panic did not set in but I did start to reflect on Nicolas' journey in the Wake County public school education system.

I recall Nicolas' kindergarten experience.  He attended the base school where his older brother went.  At the time I was unfamiliar with the myriad of options for Wake County parents.  Traditional, year-round, charter, was a whole new lingo.  I realized, when after two months into kindergarten and they were still 'testing' kids to see where they were at, that it would be an uphill battle when it came to Nicolas.  He was getting bored and I was getting frustrated.  I knew that he had strong reading ability when he began kindergarten and I also knew he comprehended what he read.  I requested a parent-teacher conference right away to make sure he was being challenged from the start.  I had to fight to get permission for my son to get more than one book out from the school library and to be 'allowed' to go to the non-fiction area and to read higher level books.  Nicolas was one of a few kids who were taken out of the kindergarten class and attended a first grade class for reading.

It was a relief when Nicolas got his first-grade reading teacher, Mrs. Jordan, for his main teacher for first grade.  By that time Mrs. Jordan was familiar with Nicolas' skill level and he could hit the ground running.  By the end of first grade and during a parent-teacher conference Mrs. Jordan encouraged us to look at a magnet school that was better equipped to deal with academically gifted children.  It was then that I immersed myself in the lingo of Wake County public school options.  We entered the lottery for a magnet school.  We did not get in.  Disappointment and concern for Nicolas' future drove me to protest and seek an exception from the school board.  I gathered all of my supporting documentation and made a presentation before the board.  To no avail.  

Nicolas had to attend our base school for second grade.  While our base school changed and he would be attending a brand new school that did not make up for the fact that he ended up having three different teachers within the first month of school!  Second-grade was memorable but for really bad reasons.  I was determined to get Nicolas into the lottery again to attend Hunter Gifted & Talented Elementary School.  Luckily, and with many prayers, Nicolas got in!

Ever since third grade, Nicolas has benefited greatly from the magnet school experience.  He is grouped with kids of the same or greater ability.  He is being challenged by his peers.  He is not the kid that stands out because he is 'weird' or uses adult language.  Nicolas has taken wonderful elective courses like:  Japanese, robotics, poetry, fencing, and acting.

When we received the package of high school course information two weeks ago included was a listing of current teacher recommendations for next year.  Nicolas will be taking all honors courses for English, Science, and Social Studies.  He will also be taking Algebra.  He has a choice of electives ranging from animal science to piano.  He will be immersed with kids whom he's been with since third grade.  He will be challenged by his peers.

Nicolas' older brother is an alumni of Enloe High School.  When Justin attended  Enloe the school was able to flaunt its national notoriety as a top-ranking high school.  Up until 2010, Enloe has consistently ranked within the top 100 high schools in the U.S. according to Newsweek magazine's annual rankings:
Year Ranking
2010 127th
2009 83rd
2008 73rd
2007 56th[1]
2006 59th
2005 52nd
2003 44th  
Hopefully, while Nicolas attends Enloe they will re-gain their notoriety as a national-ranking school of academic excellence.

So, we will revel in the good news of the day and look forward to Nicolas flourishing in a fantastic force-field of academia.

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