Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Schools Offer Sales Pitch during Magnet Mania

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Schools Offer Sales Pitch during Magnet Mania

Article excerpt

Byline: Cynthia L. Garza, Times-Union staff writer

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Willoughby said he just loves Global knives, and his friends, Merienne Blake, 17, and Jeff Schoch, 16, nodded in unanimous agreement.

"They're made of high carbon steel," Willoughby said, looking at the imaginary knife he was holding. "They're the best!"

The three teenagers are students in the Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology culinary academy, a Duval County schools magnet program.

They stood in their pressed chef coats behind colorful recipe books and loaves of baked goods yesterday, talking to students and parents interested in enrolling their kids in the culinary school. Of course, all three plan to become chefs.

Representatives of 71 elementary, middle and high schools participated in the 13th annual Magnet Mania, which showcased Duval County public schools' magnet programs. The event -- a hoopla of activity and buzzing for the thousands of parents, students and educators who attended -- was at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

"It's just always an exciting day," said Sally Hague, director of magnet programs for Duval County schools. "This is their [the parents'] opportunity to see what is available."

Hague said Magnet Mania is a way to show parents in Duval County that there are a lot of choices for students and parents within the public school system. Best of all, the education's free, Hauge said.

Matthew Mitchell, 34, teaches math at Florida Community College at Jacksonville's downtown campus. He has three kids -- 5-year-old Thomas and 2-year-old twins, Emily and Eric. Mitchell and Emily were checking out the Montessori programs. Montessori schools offer an alternative to the traditional school approach by encouraging students to pursue their curiosities and adapting to each student's learning style.

"I'm a huge fan of public schools," Mitchell said. …

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