Beginning next fall, high school students in the 109 will be able to get more than just a diploma in four years.

FWISD will unveil the Gold Seal Programs of Choice next fall to better prepare students for life after high school.

Every high school in FWISD will have three different programs students can choose from and get started on a path toward college credit or a career choice.

"A really innovative program on the horizon is our gold seal programs of choice," FWISD Superintendent Melody Johnson said at this year’s FWISD State of Education Speech. "We believe that this initiative will complete the transfer of our schools into academic communities."

All 13 high schools in the city will offer opportunities from marketing and broadcasting to teaching and business, allowing students to get more out of their high school experience.

"Each high school campus selected three areas that they are going to market that are either existing successful programs at their campus or that through student interest they discovered that they would be accepted by their student body and community," FWISD Programs of Choice Coordinator Karen Ponder said.

Julie Mathis, president of the PTA at Paschal, this program provides more educational opportunities to children in FWISD.

"These programs open doors for many students who have an idea of what they want to do career wise and gives students a chance to try out a course of study before they commit to a career choice," Mathis said.

Paschal will offer a Scholars Program, Graphic Design for Web & Print Publication and Engineering as their programs of choice.

"They are what we already do really well," said Barbara Ozuna, Academic Coordinator at Paschal. "The scholars program is basically our distinguished achievers program and that is where our merit scholars come from. That is our biggest and brightest kids and is also general college prep type of program."
Mathis said these are the perfect programs for Paschal.

"Paschal has always been known for its Advanced Academic Program and that will not change," Mathis said. "The new programs add depth to the Paschal High School program."

Ozuna said this program is a more strategic use of electives so a student can get in depth knowledge in a subject they are interested in.

" The goal is not to replace a high school diploma, but help kids channel their interests so they are taking coherent sequences of courses." Ozuna said. "This is intended to streamline electives so students that want to can learn something in depth rather than hopscotch from place to place wherever it may fit in their schedule."

Mathis said that if her children were interested in one of these programs she would encourage them to investigate the program.

"Any experience a student can get in an area of interest is a bonus," Mathis said.

Students at Paschal who choose to enroll in the Graphic Design for Web & Print Publication program will choose from seven classes they can take during their high school career. As a freshman they will take Principles of Information Technology or Business Information Management. Sophomore year they will take Digital and Interactive Media. Junior year they will enroll in Computer Programming. And in their final year they will decide between Web Technologies, Global Information Systems or Practicum in Business Management.

Not every student will have to enroll in the program, but Johnson does recommend it for all students to consider.

"Those who enroll in Programs of choice will have the ability to enroll in advanced placement and/or dual credit college classes, work with individuals from the business community or industry in a particular field and graduate with college credit and/or licenses or certifications for a career field when they leave high school," Johnson said.

Students can begin enrolling in January.

To help prepare students for enrollment, Ozuna said the school district is mailing out information brochures to parents of all eighth graders.

"That will give them very specific information about the program," Ozuna said. "Then there is a DVD that is being shown to all of the eighth grade students during school. In January we will have a choices expo, which will be like an information fair, to go along with open houses."

The programs at the high schools will not start until next fall, with the current eighth graders in the district being the inaugural members.

Ozuna said there a children at Paschal that aren’t interested in school so this is something the district has to try to motivate students.

"We are trying to give them something they can become more interested in and it is something that behooves all of us to encourage them in," Ozuna said. " I don’t think we would be doing this if we didn’t feel this would work. Now we have to see what results we get. The goal is to graduate the kids and give them something else to do with their lives other than the traditional college track, though the traditional college track is still very viable."

Ponder said her office at the FWISD Advanced, Accelerated and Innovative Learning division has been discussing future plans and goals with middle schools and high schools.

But before the Programs of Choice get started at the high schools next year, FWISD Schools of Choice have already started.

Along with the Programs of Choice, FWISD is creating Schools of Choice to give students even more options.

The Southwest Academy of Petroleum Engineering and Technology at Southwest High School started last year. This will help students learn more about engineering thanks to the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

The Young Women’s Leadership Academy is made possible by a $1 million grant and partnership with the Foundation for the Education of Young Women.

The Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences Prep works in partnership with UNT and the UNT Health Science Center was launched this year with eigth graders at Stripling Middle School.

This program was made possible by a $90,000 grant and a total of $2.7 million in grants over the next three years in part from the Sid Richardson Foundation.

So no matter what a student’s interests and desires may be, FWISD is offering something for everyone.

"What the gold seal diploma will mean to students is an acknowledgement of completion of a relevant sequence of work and college level courses, positioning them for a very bright future," Johnson said. "For the community this will be a pipeline of a well-prepared workforce. For parents this could mean money in their pockets whether saving on college tuition or having a child that is ready to enter the workforce."

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