The city school system plans to create a new magnet high school with Trinity College, which will help create academic programs and provide classrooms on campus where seniors can take classes starting in 2014.
The high-performing Hartford Magnet Middle School, at the Learning Corridor just steps from Trinity, will be expanded into a grade 6-12 institution and renamed the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy under a pact that Superintendent Steven Adamowski called "historic" for the city.
Christina Kishimoto, the incoming city schools chief, likened the academy to a "feeder school" and Trinity President James Jones Jr. said one aim is to prepare and recruit minority students from Hartford to the private, liberal arts college.
Adamowski and Jones signed a formal 10-year agreement on Thursday that can be renewed for another 10 years. The city board of education and Trinity's board of trustees each approved the partnership in recent weeks.
The academy's high school will begin this fall with an inaugural class of 100 freshmen. Trinity's faculty is helping design the curriculum, and college officials will sit on the academy's governing council, along with parents, staff and school administrators.
The first wave of high school students will be based in renovated space at Hartford Magnet Middle, but school officials expect a 35,000-square-foot addition to ultimately be built at the Learning Corridor to accommodate the academy's high school grades. Construction on the $30 million project would begin in 2013, pending approval of state funding.
The high school will eventually enroll 400 students, an even mix of city residents and suburban teenagers bused in to Hartford to comply with the Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation court agreement. The curriculum's focus will be the sciences, arts and getting students "college-ready," Jones said.
Based on an "early college" model, the academy arrives 11 years after the Learning Corridor first opened along Vernon and Broad streets on the site of a vacant bus garage. The 16-acre campus, which includes four interdistrict magnet schools, was the result of a public-private consortium involving Trinity College and other major city partners to revitalize the Frog Hollow and Barry Square neighborhoods.
Thursday's agreement marks the first time that the school system, which runs Hartford Magnet Middle, will work closely with Trinity to develop one of the city's schools. Jones said the project proved "critical to Trinity's commitment to the city of Hartford."
As part of the agreement, Trinity will provide four classrooms on the college campus where the academy's high school seniors will take normal coursework. Advanced students may also take introductory Trinity courses for college credit.
"They move from a high school to a collegiate environment by just walking across the street," Jones said.
Graduating seniors would go through the regular college application process if they seek admission to Trinity's undergraduate program.
To prepare the freshmen, Trinity faculty members and schoolteachers will instruct a writing and study skills program over the summer that is required for each class of incoming students.
Hartford Magnet Middle is one of the top-performing schools in the city and was recently recognized by Magnet Schools of America, an organization based in Washington, D.C., as the top magnet school in the country.
Principal Sally Biggs said Thursday that the new affiliation with Trinity will show students that "going to college is expected and not just a dream."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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