School spirit and pride were evident as the district’s middle and high schools showcased their best features to more than 200 families who attended the first Middle and High School Choice Fair held in recent memory.
The fair was held on Saturday, December 13 at the Juanita Sanchez Complex to help parents and students in developing their school choice selections by the February 6 deadline. The fair offered students and their families an opportunity to learn more about the district’s middle and high schools as well as career and technical programming options in order to make informed choices in their school selections.
Exhibits from each school ranged from middle school robotics programs to skilled career and technical programs at high schools to special program offerings. West Broadway Middle School promoted its 96 percent daily attendance rate while school staff and students wore matching school T-shirts. New biotechnology labs near completion at the Juanita Sanchez Complex were featured while the Providence Career and Technical Academy was eager to show their new video promoting the school’s programs.
Principals, teachers and students readily answered questions and talked to families about their school’s strengths, and there were plenty of handouts and giveaways for families to take home.
The two new Opportunity by Design High Schools opening this fall were also represented and their future principals Kerry Tuttlebee (for the school co-located at Hope HS) and Donna Lucy (co-located at Mt. Pleasant HS) eagerly sought input from students and parents about what they would like to see in a high school they would attend.
Student performances, designed to highlight diverse programs at different schools, were held in the cafeteria and ranged from Hope High School’s JROTC drill to the Roger Williams Middle School cheerleading team to guitar playing and rapping.
Smaller sessions were held to highlight the registration and school choice process.
According to school principals, parents’ questions ranged from class size to special programs, advanced placement classes and support services.
Julia Carlson, principal of Central High School, said parents were asking about dual enrollment classes where students can earn college credit while in high school. At the Nathan Bishop display, Principal Kim Luca said she fielded questions about special education, advanced academics, vocational education, partnerships with colleges, how students are grouped in classes and the availability of shadowing opportunities to observe schools firsthand. “Our families have a lot of different needs and we need to be able to showcase our different schools and programs. It’s important to promote different strands now rather than have people find out after the fact. It’s a phenomenal event.”
Brigitte Couture, an East Side parent whose three children attend private schools, attended the event as she is considering transitioning to public schools. “It’s a different way to get information and a great way to get it all in one place.”
Cheryl Vaughan, a member of the district’s Parent Advisory Committee, attended the fair with her two sons. “It’s unusual for parents to have the opportunity to talk to teachers, administrators and students at the same time about their school experience. We learned about different types of academic programs and before and after school programs.”
In Providence, the registration policy offers incoming kindergarten, sixth and ninth-grade students the opportunity to note their preference for up to four schools they would like to attend. Seats are then granted on a space-available basis, with a mix of neighborhood and non-neighborhood students eligible to attend each school. In cases where more seats are requested for a school than are available, a lottery will be held on February 20. Exceptions to this policy are Classical High School, which has test admission, and specialized programs of career and technical training at the Providence Career and Technical Academy and high schools throughout the district, which require applications.