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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2004

Small-schools plan triggers enthusiasm

Jeremy Atkins is looking forward to starting classes next week - putting him on the road to becoming an engineer.

But the ambitious 15-year-old high school freshman is starting down that road four years earlier than most people. He was among several hundred students who went through orientation yesterday for Scott High School's new small-schools plan.

With nearly million-dollar grants from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Toledo's Scott and Libbey high schools were redesigned to house four schools in each building.

Jeremy will attend the School of Business, Technology, and Industry at Scott. His mother, Bridget Henderson, says she has high hopes for the concept Toledo Public Schools studied for a year before implementing at the start of classes Tuesday.

"The thing that scares us is that this is a big school and it swallows up kids," she said. "So I think this will be really good."

Bob Bailey, a small-schools leader at Scott who teaches broadcasting, said each school will have 400 students and be situated in different areas of the building. Smaller schools, he said, let teachers work more closely with students and allow for courses tailored to specific educational and career interests.

"The less students mingle, the more successful they will be," he said.

KnowledgeWorks, with money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, awarded Libbey a $776,475 grant and committed $931,005 to Scott. Rogers High School also received a grant, but teachers last spring rejected the proposed plan.

Allied Health; Arts and Media; Business, Technology, and Industry, and Human Services are the four schools at Scott. Libbey has Humanities and the Arts; Business and Marketing; Math and Science/Trade Technology, and Consumer and Health Technology.

Allen Ward, 14, an incoming freshman at Scott, wants to be a dentist and said the Allied Health school will help him in that goal.

"The teachers will get more involved, and I think the students will pay more attention," he said.

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