The Boone County Honors Academy opened this semester, bringing together students from all three high schools in the county to learn honors math and science. This is the pilot class for the academy, and all eyes are on its students.
Participants from Scott, Sherman and Van high schools are bused to the school daily for the first half of their school day. The 20 students who attend were selected first by grades, then by ACT scores, as well as an application they had to fill out.
Students in the Honors Academy are enrolled in honors pre-calculus or in an online statistics class through Marshall University if they have already had pre-calculus. The teacher in charge of both classes is Nancy Booth. They also take honors chemistry II, which is being taught by Linda Browning from a college textbook.
The teens currently in the academy are all juniors, and they will attend next year as well. (A new class of juniors will join them.) Next year, they will take AP chemistry and calculus. When they graduate, they will have around 15 hours of college credit.
"I think that it's been extremely challenging but a beneficial experience nonetheless," said Michelle Cobb of Van High School. "I think it's brought all three schools together."
"It was a great investment and very hard, but it will be worth it in the end," said Bethany Buckner, who comes to the academy from Scott High School.
The Boone County Board of Education has spared no expense building and furnishing the academy, which is located in the same building as Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College next to the county's vocational school. The cost has totaled in the millions.
The school is filled with first-rate technology, including SmartBoards in both classrooms and the computer lab. The chemistry lab has top-of-the-line equipment, books and chemicals. Even the lights are high-tech; they're motion sensing.
The school board gave the students their own TI-Nspire CX color graphing calculators. It also plans to buy iPads for the students to use in class and for schoolwork during their senior year.The students may be in for a long, hard semester with all the extra homework they will have, but in the end, it will be worth it for them.