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Application deadline nears for new school

DULUTH - Gwinnett County school officials will soon begin to pick the 200 students who will be the first to enroll in the county's new School of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

But first, the rising ninth-graders who would like to go to a school designed to enhance student achievement in engineering, bioscience and emerging technologies must turn in an application by Jan. 12 to the counseling office of their middle schools.

About 100 people have contributed to the school's curriculum, which will allow students to focus on aerospace design and application, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, biomedical design, biotechnology, forensic science, robotics, nanotechnologies and global-positioning system applications.

All ninth-grade students will enroll next year in advanced geometry/discrete mathematics; advanced physics/chemistry; introduction to humanities; fundamentals of engineering; fine arts including chorale, ensembles, winds, strings or symphony; foreign languages including Chinese or Japanese; health and fitness; and applications and research through integrated science, engineering and technology.

The curriculum is designed "to make the transition from high school to college a seamless one," said Associate Superintendent Cindy Loe, who runs the school system's division of teaching and learning.

There are a few things to consider before applying, Loe said.

The school will be run out of Duluth High School for three years, and the school system will not provide transportation to the school until the fall of 2010, when the school's permanent campus opens, Loe said.

Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students can also choose to take online courses. Extracurricular activities will be offered, but they will be academic in nature, and the school will not have a football team or a cheerleading squad.

During the first three years, the school will admit 200 freshmen students on an application basis. When the permanent building opens, 300 students will be admitted each year to the freshmen class.

To apply, students must complete an application that includes biographical information, educational experience, an essay and short-answer questions. The student must also provide evaluation forms completed by a middle school counselor and eighth-grade English or language arts, mathematics and science teachers. The application also requires a letter of recommendation from someone who knows the applicant outside of school and official transcripts with first-semester grades.

Selection decisions will be mailed to students' parents and guardians by the end of February.

Application materials for the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology are available on the Gwinnett County Public Schools' Web site, www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us.