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School Choice Night Helps Eighth-Graders Select Their Preferred High School

Mount Vernon families and students joined a Zoom meeting on Thursday, January 20, 2022 to learn more about the Mount Vernon City School District high schools so students could then choose the school they hope to attend in September.

Students have until Feb. 4 to register their first choice of a high school. A link and QR code for the selection form is on the district’s homepage,

Each of the three high schools focuses on a different theme. Mount Vernon High School offers the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB), plus a strong program of career and tech courses. The Denzel Washington School of the Arts educates aspiring creatives in theater, dance, visual arts and instrumental music. The Mount Vernon STEAM Academy builds its hands-on, interactive curriculum on the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics approach.

Mount Vernon High School offers a full range of options. The IB program is a rigorous honors program recognized worldwide. IB students can earn up to 36 college credits, and the diploma is recognized in many countries as an achievement in a rigorous curriculum and study in processing information.

“It’s a diploma that will get you through the door all over the world,” said Daphne Platt, the IB coordinator.

Career and Technical Education is offered in an array of fields from cosmetology to culinary arts to television production.

“We have something for everyone,” said Principal Dr. Matthew Gonzales.

While the evening was mostly for eighth graders who will rise to ninth grade next year, the DWSA also educates sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and accepts applications from students about to enter those grades. Whatever the grade, those who apply, “should be passionate about their art,” said Principal Dr. Evelyn Collins.

In addition to the arts, the school has technical theater programs to teach support and behind-the-scenes roles such as operating theater lightboards and soundboards. The school grew out of the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet that started in 2015. It took on its current name in 2020.

“The students are becoming masters of their disciplines,” Dr. Collins said.

The Mount Vernon STEAM Academy focuses on a problem-based learning approach that integrates subject areas and fosters collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

“I want them to work in groups, I want them to work collaboratively,” said teacher Thomas Pufahl, explaining the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science instruction at the school.

Teachers gave examples of activities such as building robots that perform a specific function – avoiding walls or following a light, for example – and classes in which students use real-world equipment such as centrifuges and a model arm that budding phlebotomists use to practice drawing blood.

When the students go to college and on to careers, Pufahl said, “they’ve already been exposed to a lot of these tools.”

View a video of the School Chioce Night here.