RALEIGH—In just one month, Wake County's newest schools will open. The single-sex leadership academies start Aug. 13.
Originally, the schools were going to be housed on the campus of William Peace University. However, Peace backed out of the deal in mid-April, leaving the school system scrambling for a new location. The Young Men's Leadership Academy can not move into its permanent home, the old Thompson School, until the 2013-2014 school year.
But even without a set location for the academies, 800 students applied for just 300 seats.
“We didn't have a building, We didn't have a staff,” said Dean of Student Services for the Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy Javier Martinez. “We didn't have a curriculum at that time. But [the students] saw what we saw and it's really drawn us all very close.”
This school year, the young men's academy is making due with the modular campus used last year for Wilburn Elementary. Right now, dark classrooms hold rows of desks and chairs, stacks of teaching supplies, and empty cubbies waiting to be filled. Even the sign on the outside of the school still says Wilburn.
Rising sixth-grader Eric Bellamy is one of the first 150 students at the new Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy. The 11-year-old got a sneak preview of the facility Friday afternoon.
“I'm excited actually,” Bellamy said, sitting at one of the desks, wearing a starched white shirt and tie. “But there's going to be new people I don't know, so it's going to be a little nervous the first couple of days.”
School starts in exactly one month. But administrators say the school will be ready.
“We'll be fine. We'll be fine. One month. Twenty-four usable hours in a day,” said Martinez.
Getting ready for students is not just about moving chairs and tables. In the past eight months, the school system has had to hire 40 people to staff the two new schools.
“As of two weeks ago, we finally hired our last teacher so we have a complete staff,” said Martinez.
Teachers officially report to school one week before students, but some are already starting to move in.
“The place doesn't really matter to me. Just the education I'm getting,” said Bellamy.
The Young Women's Leadership Academy will be on the Governor Morehead School campus. The leadership academies will open with sixth, seventh, and ninth graders, but will eventually be six through 12. They operate on an early-college model, with students earning college credits before graduation.
About half of the students will be first generation college-bound.