The Gathering Year, September 16 @ BTW Magnet

Last Saturday, September 16,  Booker T. Washington Magnet High School‘s Creative Writing and Photography students hosted an event with the Gathering Year, a program to collect stories, photographs, and mementos as a way of documenting local history for Montgomery County’s bicentennial year. (Named after Major Lemuel Putnam Montgomery, who died in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.Montgomery County was officially created on December 6, 1816, three years before Alabama became a state.) The Creative Writing students were set to interview people who live or have lived in the Centennial Hill neighborhood while the Photography students were there to help scan old photos.

Unfortunately, the size of the audience was smaller than planned. Although this was disappointing, it was a humbling, learning experience. For example, next time we host an event like this, we can try and make it more convenient for the public. Perhaps, instead of having it only on a Saturday morning from 9:00 AM until noon and having local residents to collect and sort through their old boxes, we could extend the time and make it a longer process. Also, establishing the trust with strangers who were asking to go through their treasured items could make the next event more successful.

The Gathering Year is a combined effort with the ultimate goal of compiling the history of the unincorporated and underserved communities and to make the information available online through Auburn University’s Alabama Places and Spaces database.

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Can arts schools be Great Schools?

With everyday stress and banality, students can benefit from artistic outlets that allow them to enjoy the luxurious side of life. Since art is a beautiful expression of culture and history, arts schools are known to provide a learning environment unique to that of traditional public schools. Studies have shown that students work better when they are able to take a break from strenuous curricula and focus on something creative.

But do arts schools in the Deep South meet common expectations of excellence? No school, whether a traditional or arts school, is going to be perfect according to all standards. But evidence from Great Schools and US News shows that some of the arts high schools in the region do make sure that their students are prepared to tackle college, career, and creativity.

Alabama
  • State average for students passing 1 or more AP exam: 45%
  • State average student teacher ratio: 16:1
  • State average teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 89%

Alabama School of Fine Arts

  • Students passing 1 or more AP exams: 66%
  • Student teacher ratio: 8:1
  • Teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 93%

Florida

  • State average student teacher ratio: 17:1
  • State average high school graduation rate: 81%
  • state average teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 87%

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jacksonville, FL)

  • Great Schools overall rating: 8 out of 10
  • Student teacher ratio: 21:1
  • High school graduation rate: 99%
  • Average SAT score: 1560
  • Teachers with 3 or more years experience: 91%
  • US News Best High Schools in Florida ranking: 16
  • US News Best High School National ranking: 137
  • US News Best Magnet High Schools ranking: 39

Georgia

  • State average student teacher ratio: 17:1
  • State average high school graduation rate: 79%
  • State average SAT score: 1407
  • State average ACT score: 20
  • State average teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 94%

DeKalb School of the Arts

  • Great Schools overall rating: 10 out of 10
  • Student teacher ratio: 16:1
  • High school graduation rate: 100%
  • Average SAT score:1697
  • Average ACT score: 24
  • Teachers with 3 or more years of experience- 100%
  • US News Best High Schools in Georgia ranking: 2
  • US News Best High Schools National ranking: 89
  • US News Best Magnet High Schools ranking: 24

Louisiana

  • State average student teacher ratio: 15:1
  • State average teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 87%

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

  • Great Schools overall rating: 10 out of 10
  • Student teacher ratio: 4:1
  • Teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 100%
  • US News Best High Schools in Louisiana ranking: 17

Lusher Charter School

  • Great Schools overall rating: 10 out of 10
  • Student teacher ratio: 15:1
  • Teachers with 3 or more years of experience: 93%
  • US News Best High Schools in Louisiana ranking: 3
  • US News Best High Schools National ranking: 122
  • US News Best Charter High Schools ranking: 41