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Druid Hills Annex Opens at Former Avondale High

School choice, regular enrollment student numbers up

No sooner was it closed than Avondale High was partially repurposed and reopened yesterday as Druid Hills Annex at DeKalb School of the Arts for freshmen and sophomores exercising their school choice option under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly known as No Child Left Behind).

When the announcement was made in mid-July that Druid Hills would be a receiving school, the number of students expected was forecast to be about 195 students, with the caveat that the number could be adjusted based on the number of students who request a transfer based on schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress.

As of the end of the day Monday, more than 400 ESEA students were enrolled at Druid Hills and its annex.

With last year's redistricting and absorption of students from the closed Avondale and redrawn district lines for Clarkston, enrollment at Druid Hills could top 1,600. The building is designed to house about 1,400.

DHHS Principal Mindee Adamson says the administration will have final numbers once students who do not return to school and summer seniors are off the rolls. Last year, some students did not report until after Labor Day.

After things quieted down more than an hour after the school day ended, Adamson said, "Everything went smoothly up front. If I can keep people here in the front offices happy and the rest of the people in the building not even knowing what's going on, then my job has been well done. We didn't have any major meltdowns."

Assistant Principal Rick Gholston, who has been at Druid Hills for more than 10 years, is the on-site assistant principal at the annex, while Adamson is over both campuses. She says she has brought some staff, such as the building supervisor, from Avondale and sent some staff from Druid Hills to the annex.

Students at the annex will be able to participate in and attend after-school activities and functions, including sports, by taking a county-funded activity bus to the main campus. The annex will dismiss students 10 minutes earlier than the main campus, thereby allowing time for students to make the five-mile bus ride and get to after--school activities on time.

"We are trying to make it as much like Druid Hills High as possible, with the same expectations and opportunities as we have at DHHS," Gholston said.

While buses are not provided to transport the students to and from school, MARTA cards and transportation reimbursement stipends are offered.

At Druid Hills main campus, it means no mobile classrooms for the moment, though some classes at the main campus were so full yesterday that students had to sit on the floor.

PTA president Nicole Dowling said the school and PTA are reaching out to welcome students and families from the newly expanded attendance zone and from the annex.

Open houses will be held this month at both campuses. Also, the DHHS PTA and Athletic Foundation annual Auction Party and Fundraiser will be held on February 4 at the Avondale Community Club, located in the heart of the new part of the attendance area, she said.

"We hope to involve families new to the DHHS attendance zone and also at the Annex in all PTA meetings and other school events. At school functions that occur at both locations, main campus and Annex, such as the Open House night when parents get to meet their child's teachers, PTA will participate and be on-site at both locations," Dowling said. "I know this past week that several teachers at the DHHS main campus, and a number of students spent time preparing and decorating the Annex facility to welcome the new students."

Linda Crowley, DeKalb County's administrator for supplemental services, said the county offers additional resources for students from schools that are not making Adequate Yearly Progress and that switching schools is not the only available option.

Students can go to Sylvan Learning Center, Kennedy Learning Center or get one-on-one tutorial services, including in-home tutoring. In addition, at the schools that did not make AYP, the schools must have plans and in-school tutoring to help improve student achivement, she said.

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