Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Academies Earn High Praise for Work

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Academies Earn High Praise for Work

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

The father was ecstatic.

He had called Raleigh Sapp, who oversees the Clay County school district's high school career-track academies, praising the impact one of the academies had on his son.

The teenager had been transformed, the father told Sapp, from an unfocused, uninterested student into a goal-oriented person looking forward to the life ahead of him.

"He said his son was down and out about school and everything to do with his life. And now he's gotten turned on to the academy," Sapp said.

Such feedback is one of the reasons Sapp, the district's director of applied technology, is so high on academies, the first of which opened in Clay County three years ago at Ridgeview High School.

"The individual stories of kids and parents are just phenomenal. I get phone calls from parents telling me, 'The academy saved my son's life,' " he said.

Soon, there will be two more academies at Clay County high schools to help provide students with needed focus. When the 2001-02 school year starts Aug. 7, the Academy of Digital and Electronic Technology opens at Middleburg High School and the Academy of Health and Human Services opens at Orange Park High School.

They join the existing Academy of Television and Web Production at Ridgeview High and the Academy of Engineering and Design Technology at Orange Park High. Fleming Island High School, which is scheduled for construction soon, will open in 2003 with a business academy focusing on finance and business customer service.

Each of the county's five high schools has a variety of vocational programs, from carpentry and drafting at Clay High School to agritechnology and horticulture at Keystone Heights Junior-Senior High. But academies, through team teaching, small work groups, integrated curriculum and internships, focus students for their entire high school careers on particular career tracks. The programs are meant to equip students with the skills needed in a specific field or to continue that track at the college level. …

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