Charter school to hold lottery
School receives 500 applicants for 250 spots

DULUTH - The number of applicants to the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology has doubled in its second year.

Nearly 500 applications were submitted by eighth-grade students seeking admission to the charter school, but only 250 pupils will be accepted into the incoming freshman class, Gwinnett County Public Schools officials announced Friday.

To determine which students will attend the school, district officials will hold a lottery from 7 to 8 a.m. Friday at the Instructional Support Center in Suwanee. Although the lottery is open to the public, parents and students will be notified of the results and will not be required to attend.

This is the first time the school system has had to hold a lottery as part of its system charter school registration process, according to a news release. Last year, about 250 students applied to the school, and all were accepted.

The charter school's dean of academics, Banks Bitterman, said he is "extremely happy so many students want to be part of the school.

"We've got a great group of existing faculty and students who are working extremely hard in being successful," Bitterman said. "It's great to see more students interested in being part of that success."

The school focuses on teaching science, technology, engineering and math, which allows students to develop and explore their interests while still in high school and better prepares them for the future, said Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for the school district.

The technology-based curriculum also helps prepare students for their continued academic and professional lives, Bitterman said.

"We're trying to prepare students for jobs that don't exist yet but will exist in five years," he said.

Nikhil Lakhanpal, the charter school's student body president, said the students who attend the school have a common interest in their aptitudes in math and science.

The 15-year-old said he didn't quite know what to expect when he applied last year.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity to expand my horizons in math and science," Lakhanpal said.

The experience has been good so far, he said.

A new class of ninth-graders will be admitted to the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology each year. The school is currently housed inside Duluth High School, but it will move to a permanent facility in 2010.

For students who are thinking about applying to the school in future years, Bitterman has some advice.

"They should push themselves in every academic area and develop incredible organizational and study skills."