Originally created 02/03/05

School makes finals for national awards



In the midst of restructuring, C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School has something to celebrate.

The K-8 school was nominated Wednesday as a finalist for the 2004-05 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Award, one of only eight in Georgia to be nominated by the state Department of Education. Those nominated usually win.

C.T. Walker was nominated as one of two schools that ranked in the top 10 percent of the state with fewer than 40 percent disadvantaged pupils.

The nomination comes while district officials plan major changes for the school.

First, the school district plans to relocate the magnet school this summer to allow for renovations, Principal Paula Baker said during a recent meeting of the school's council.

In addition, the district plans to drop grades 6-8 at Walker and add them to A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School, according to Pat Burau, the assistant superintendent for school improvement.

Talk of dropping the middle grades at Walker has generated a lot of discussion at the school.

But Ms. Burau said the district will have options for Walker pupils before the grades are dropped.

"We will not take any child in an existing grade and drop that grade. If we have a seventh-grader, we will not take away the eighth grade until they have an option," Ms. Burau said at a recent advisory committee meeting.

"It may be that that group of students could go automatically to one of the (other magnet) schools," she said.

Meanwhile, the state's nomination gives Ms. Baker another reason to be giddy.

"C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School has always been a high-achieving school due to the dedication of students, teachers and parents working together to ensure that the highest academic standards are met and exceeded," the principal said in a statement.

About this time last year, C.T. Walker was celebrating the honor of being named a Georgia School of Excellence, a program that recognizes schools that have shown significant improvement or are consistent top performers.

At C.T. Walker, administrators select pupils from applications each year, judging those who apply on grades and discipline records.

Pupils must then sign a contract, keep a grade average of 75 or better and maintain a high level of discipline.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.

What's Next:

The U.S. Department of Education will announce the 2005 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools in September, and the selected schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.