Starting in the next school year, first-year students attending Little Rock’s Hall High School can choose from three coursework tracks focusing on science, technology and the arts.
Officials with the state Department of Education and the Little Rock School District on Tuesday announced plans for re-designating Hall as a magnet school focusing on STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.
LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore told the audience that students from all attendance zones are welcome to apply for the 2020- 2021 school year.
"We want to have a Hall High that is exciting for those of you that are current students that you say, 'Whoa, this is what's coming,'" Poore said. "But we also want to have it be an excitement that generates for the students that could select Hall, because Hall being a magnet now, it truly is a choice option and an opportunity."
Students beginning ninth grade in the coming school year will choose from courses focusing on computer science, media arts or healthcare and medicine. Joel Spencer, a veteran district instructor who now serves as Hall’s STEAM Magnet Coordinator, said the pathways were chosen to help students move into the workforce or to college upon graduation.
"One of the things we looked at here in central Arkansas was jobs. Where are the jobs going to be? And we found out that in the area of computer applications and healthcare, those are where the jobs are," Spencer said. "So that's why we have decided that computer application development, medical practice and healthcare and media arts would be our initial three branches of our tree."
Jay Barth, chief education officer for the City of Little Rock, says a series of community question-and-answer sessions will help to refine the school’s focus areas.
"What's really crucial moving forward is that the citizens, parents and students really be involved in the fleshing out of the of the actual curriculum because this program is really only going to succeed, and thus Hall High will only succeed if the community is deeply involved in developing the curriculum," Barth said
All teachers and the principal of Hall High must re-apply for their current jobs or find other employment before the school year that begins in August. A new principal is expected to be named by the end of the month.