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Back to School 2022: “Next-generation” Seckinger High School among new instructional highlights in Gwinnett this year

July 19, 2022

     Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) is committed to teaching each and every student the skills and mindsets needed for success in a rapidly changing and complex world. We do this by providing a world-class education featuring innovative approaches to classroom instruction, using cutting-edge technology in state-of-the-art facilities.

     At the district level and in our schools and clusters, teachers and school leaders are exploring new ways to engage students in their learning. GCPS continues to offer College and Career Academies at seven high school and other opportunities for students like the new and innovative Seckinger High School, the groundbreaking School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement, and Dual Enrollment. Additionally, there are many other creative learning opportunities you will find in GCPS this coming year. A few include:

Theme schools go beyond the traditional high school experience

     The new Seckinger High School is a next-generation high school that will offer innovative learning opportunities and preparation for fast-paced environments of the future. Students will be able to choose areas of focus within schools of study that focus on the humanities, international business, and advanced sciences and technology (with a focus on artificial intelligence, also called AI). All students—those who elect to focus on an area of concentration as well as those choosing a more traditional path—will have embedded AI learning and skill development throughout their coursework. These learning experiences will promote future-readiness skills like project management, design thinking, ethics in decision-making, and effective teamwork. Students will have the opportunity to apply their learning and skills to a real-world challenge of their choice through a capstone experience. In addition, students will also be able to excel in athletics, fine arts, extracurricular activities, student associations, leadership opportunities, and service organizations. With a building capacity of 2,800, the campus will include expanded technology and engineering labs; three large lecture halls with adjoining labs and classroom space; collaboration rooms and spaces throughout the building; expanded art classrooms and graphic design lab; band, orchestra, chorus rooms, and MIDI lab; theatre and dance studio; and gymnasiums, athletic fields, and a stadium. The total student experience is a high priority at SHS.

     GCPS’ groundbreaking School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School features more than 50,000 square feet of new space, and the addition to Central Gwinnett High serves students engaged in rigorous and engaging curriculum focused on three key areas:

  • Performing Arts— Theatre, Television and Film, Dance, and Music
  • Visual Arts— 2D-, 3D-, and Digital Art, and Fashion
  • Technology for the Arts— Film and Broadcasting, Theatre Technology, Sound Recording, and MIDI Technology

     The School of the Arts’ college-preparatory curriculum combines required coursework with expanded fine arts classes, internships, and work experiences for students at a pre-professional and professional level. A unique feature of the School of the Arts includes opportunities for select students to study in a Fine Arts Conservatory setting. Admittance and participation in the Conservatory program at the School of the Arts is determined through auditions, interviews, and juried presentations and performances. The signature Conservatory program provides students with expanded course opportunities, and includes regular work with industry professionals, as well as participation in internships and work-based experiences. In addition, the location of the School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School will expand arts experiences for students throughout the Central Gwinnett Cluster (Jordan and Moore middle schools and Jenkins, Lawrenceville, Simonton, and Winn Holt elementary schools). Partnerships with the City of Lawrenceville, the Aurora Theatre, arts organizations, and postsecondary schools are a hallmark of this program, providing students many opportunities to engage with artists, businesses, and the larger community. 

     Now in its fourth year, McClure Health Science High School continues to open doors into the medical field for students. Students at this unique high school take part in a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum through the lens of health science: combining coursework with practical experiences in a myriad of Health Science Fields. This school is focused on “Learning Well.” Its health science focus was developed with students and their futures in mind. Health science job opportunities are growing, and students are able to earn industry certification, preparing them for the workplace or continued postsecondary experiences. The three primary health science career areas provide a focus for students’ studies in Clinical Studies with concentrations in Patient Care and Exercise Physiology, and Medical Support with concentrations in Medical Front Office and Phlebotomy. These focus areas give students the foundation to pursue a host of careers, such as emergency responder, radiology tech, physician, medical billing clerk, medical researcher, and nurse, just to name a few. The goal is to extend learning in the health science areas and to provide students with experiences and knowledge that will help support them as they transition to college and career.

     Paul Duke STEM HS, another Gwinnett theme school, is beginning its fifth year and growing its technology offerings to students. All students at Paul Duke STEM start with introductory courses in digital technology, engineering, mechatronics, electronics, graphic design, or film, which launches their STEM-focused career exploration. Students are able to earn industry certification, preparing them to enter the workforce or pursue postsecondary opportunities in high wage, high skill, and in-demand STEM career fields, including growing areas in computer science. One of these areas is Cybersecurity, which is a rapidly growing career area and at Paul Duke STEM, students have more cybersecurity options than any other high school in Georgia. Some students opt to participate in a three-year (8 semesters) dual enrollment experience in partnership with Gwinnett Tech that earns college credit towards an Associate’s degree while in high school. And for approximately 25 seniors each year, the school offers a Senior Experience consisting of a cybersecurity experience with the FBI’s Atlanta Office and two dual enrollment courses with Mercer University – Atlanta.

Computer Science for All

     As computational thinking and programming become ever more pervasive in life, society, and the workforce, Gwinnett County Public Schools is committed to ensuring our students are future ready, increasing our computer science learning opportunities K-12 as a part of our Computer Science for All (CS4All) initiative, which launched last school year. Our CS4All goals are to:

  • Improve equity and access to computer science education for all students
  • Develop students as learners, users, and creators of computer science knowledge & artifacts
  • Develop student understanding of the role of computing in the world around them
  • Provide students with the knowledge and skills for future and current careers

     The initiative aims to ensure all elementary, middle, and high schools offer computer science programs and will expand those programs over the next several years so that all GCPS students will receive meaningful computer science learning experiences K-12. Nearly all of our elementary schools will offer computer science in the 2022-23 school year, with plans for all to offer it the following year. All of our middle and high schools currently have computer science courses for students. These programs are supplemented by extra-curricular robotics programs like FIRST LEGO League (K-8), VEX Robotics (6-12), and FIRST Robotics Competition (9-12).

Berkmar Film + Digital Arts Program

     Embedded within Berkmar High School’s Media and Fine Arts Academy, the new Film + Digital Arts program offers a world-class learning experience, preparing students for careers in preproduction, production, and postproduction in Georgia’s booming film industry. The program features strong partnerships with the Georgia Film Academy, the City of Lilburn, and Gwinnett Film, and features a state-of-the-art soundstage and equipment for production, writers' rooms for preproduction, and specialized editing labs for postproduction. Students who participate in the program will have access to industry recognized certifications and dual enrollment opportunities, offering students routes to both postsecondary studies and immediate entry into the workforce.

Archer, Brookwood, and Grayson Agriculture Programs

     Agriculture is a staple of the Georgia economy even in a bustling suburban community such as Gwinnett County. Advancements in agricultural technology have transformed the farming industry and brought new opportunities for tech savvy careers in a field centuries old. This year Grayson High School will begin a new agricultural program, joining Archer and Brookwood High Schools in offering students an opportunity to explore emerging trends in the industry and get hands-on experiences with the new technologies, using a combination of robotics and aquaponics or greenhouse technologies.

Dual Language Immersion (DLI) offerings expand:

     The GCPS World Languages and Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program continues to expand and grow as the district prepares students for success in an increasingly interconnected world. At schools throughout the district, world language program offerings in elementary, middle, and high schools include Spanish, French, Latin, German, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish for Heritage Speakers, and Spanish for Native Speakers. American Sign Language (ASL) will be offered for the first time in GCPS at Berkmar High School. These programs focus on communicative and intercultural competencies, providing students with a strong competitive advantage as they move forward with college and into careers. Now in its ninth year, ten GCPS elementary schools offer DLI programs, and six middle schools feature continuation programs. DLI students at Annistown, Baldwin, Bethesda, Camp Creek, Ivy Creek, Level Creek, Meadowcreek, and Mulberry elementary schools learn in Spanish and English, while students at Trip Elementary learn in French and English and students at Parsons Elementary learn in Korean and English. School year 2022-23 marks the expansion of our second DLI cohort from elementary to middle school. Jones, Summerour, and Trickum middle schools will receive their first cohort of students while Bay Creek, Shiloh, and Sweetwater middle schools will continue into 8th grade. 

STEM and STEAM:

     As we kick off the 2022-23 school year, GCPS celebrates STEM/STEAM-focused learning for students at 11 certified schools and programs across the district:

  • Coleman Middle School- STEAM School Certification
  • Collins Hill High School - STEM Program Certification for its Reimagining Innovation Through Science and Engineering (RISE) Program
  • Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST)- STEM School Certification
  • Lanier Middle School – STEM Program Certification for its Technology with Innovative Skills and Teamwork (TWIST) Program
  • Lanier High School - STEM Program Certification for its Center for Design and Technology (CDAT) Program
  • Lovin Elementary School – STEM School Certification
  • Mason Elementary School- STEM School Certification
  • Mill Creek High School - STEM Program Certification for its Experiential Project-based Innovative Collaborative & Cross-curricular (EPIC) Program
  • Paul Duke STEM High School – STEM School Certification (This is the first whole school; Title I STEM certified high school in the state of Georgia.)
  • Peachtree Ridge High School - STEM Program Certification for its STEM Program for Innovation Rigor & Excellence (SPIRE) Program
  • White Oak Elementary School - STEM School Certification     

     Each of these schools has been awarded the certification designated by the Georgia Department of Education STEM/STEAM Program. Additionally, more than 20 Gwinnett schools are pursuing STEM certification. Those who were awarded STEM/STEAM Certification designation in May will celebrate their certification in the late fall with recognition and receipt of a certification banner presented by State School Superintendent Woods.

     Other STEM/STEAM initiatives include every elementary school offering FIRST LEGO League robotics competitive teams; and STEM experiences—project-based learning, coding, robotics, and enhanced science, math, and career and technical education options— in classrooms across the county; extracurricular competitions in STEM. GCPS also offers a GaPSC approved STEM Endorsement Program open to all educators in the district. Ask about STEM or STEAM opportunities at our local schools and learn more about how GCPS is bringing learning to life.

Partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) going strong:

     The 2022-23 school year marks year eight for the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett, which provides hands-on experiences in financial literacy, career readiness, and entrepreneurship for 6th and 8th grade students in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Annually, the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett serves more than 25,000 students through JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. Ninety-six percent of teachers said they saw students effectively developing and integrating high-order skills including creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and innovation. In addition, this past year the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett saw more than 2,400 community volunteers, of which 99 percent said it was a “best-in-class experience and would recommend it to friends and colleagues.” Volunteers play a key role in bringing the programs to life for the students, as they provide real-world experiences and viewpoints. For those interested in volunteering at the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett with a group of 5 or more, please email Genevieve Montreuil (gmontreuil@georgia.ja.org) or Loren Lownes (llownes@georgia.ja.org) for individual opportunities.

     For high school students, 3DE by Junior Achievement connects students to business leaders and entrepreneurs through the lens of case-study methodology. Currently, 3DE is in Parkview High School, Norcross High School, South Gwinnett High School, and Mountain View High School. 3DE challenges students to think critically and engage in their learning as they prepare for a successful future. 3DE students gain real-world experience through visits to community businesses, mentoring, networking with professionals, tackling dynamic case studies, and more.

College and Career Academies: 

     Seven Gwinnett high schools—Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Discovery, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Shiloh, and South Gwinnett—continue to build their college and career academies. The academies give students a preview of potential careers as they learn core subjects through the lens of an academic or career theme. Through job-shadowing, internships, and project-based learning, students not only learn from experience and collaborate with peers, they also have the opportunity to earn money. Career and Technical Education (CTE) students have the option to pursue 61 Career Pathways that lead to high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers. In 2021–22, CTE students earned 5,755 certifications as part of their coursework, or at the end of their pathway. In addition, CTE students earned 4,984 Career Ready Diploma Seals to signal that they are prepared to participate in the workforce. A total of 1,248 GCPS students participated in Work-Based Learning (WBL) during the 2021-22 school year. WBL students earned collective wages of approximately $3 million while engaging in 323,339 hours of career relevant experiences.

To learn more about any of these initiatives, contact Bernard Watson, director of community relations, at 678-301-6020.