HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A new high school will be accepting a whole new class of sixth-grade students to combat overcrowding at surrounding middle schools in the southern part of Hillsborough County.
The main Sumner High building will house 3,000 students. However, when the district opens a new high school, they do not put in a senior class.
According to Brown, Sumner will open with around 1,700 to 1,800 students. For the first few years, the school will able to take on additional middle-school students who otherwise would be zoned for overcrowded surrounding middle schools.
“So, they said, ‘Hey, we’re going to build you a new middle school. It’s going to take us about three years,'" said Brown. "But in the meantime, why don’t we put some middle schoolers at Sumner High School and kind of relieve some of the overcrowding at these middle schools’.”
In August 2020, Academy 2027 at Sumner High will only have sixth-grade students. In the following year, Brown says the students will move on to seventh grade and then eighth grade. No additional kids will be added. District leaders are hoping to keep the same teachers year after year for the students.
Brown said by the time the Academy 2027 kids advance to high school, the new middle school will have been built. At that point, Sumner will return to being a regular high school.
There are unique benefits to having kids stay with one class for all three years of middle school.
“Knowing that they’re going to be together for those three years, we’re going to hire teachers that we hope those teachers will stay with them throughout those three year,” Brown said. “So they’ll be able to loop and do a lot of looping, which is very powerful.”
They hope having one teacher will help both staff and students.
“Teachers get to know the students’ strengths and weaknesses,” Brown said. “So, he or she can start tailor-making that curriculum for each individual student. So, it’s just really, really powerful.”
Academy 2027 will also offer plenty of elective classes that students will take with the high-school teachers they will eventually have when they reach ninth grade. These include band, music, orchestra, chorus, art, vet assisting, business classes, culinary arts and more.
All of those students who want to attend Academy 2027 will need to choice in. The district is now hoping to get anywhere between 350 and 450 students for the program. The deadline to apply for school choice across Hillsborough County is December 31, 2019.
The district is also opening Sumner High School and Academy 2027 with the Cambridge Pre-AICE Program (Advanced International Certification in Education), which is designed for academically talented middle school students. Students enrolled in the AICE program will receive a curriculum that prepares them to succeed in rigorous courses in high school and college, similar to advanced placement courses. They are the first public schools in Hillsborough County to do so.
Not all students will qualify for it. But for those who complete the program, they are able to take an exam that will allow them to get college credit.
“So they’ll be able to walk out of here in high school with 30-35 college credits which is going to save them money and time which parents like and so do the kids," Brown said.
Another benefit is that here in Florida, if you get the AICE High School Diploma, you automatically qualify for Florida Bright Futures. That allows students to go to any Florida college and tuition is entirely paid for.
Students do not have to qualify for the Cambridge Pre-AICE Program in order to choice into Academy 2020.