Contractors have already begun construction on the new FAMU DRS building projected to be completed by July 2008, and many DRS teachers said they feel this will be a positive change for students.
FAMU DRS’ new home will be located on the corner of Wahnish Way and Orange Ave. The school will include six different buildings. The cafetorium, which will double as a cafeteria and an auditorium, an administration building, a gymnasium and separate buildings for the elementary, middle and high schools will comprise the school.
Sylvester Peck, the art instructor for FAMU DRS, is excited about the new classroom studio space for his art class.
“It will be pretty much state-of-the-art,” Peck said. He said that the new art room will feature arts and crafts and desktop publishing.
Peck also said that the current school has “no real room to do anything,” maxing out at about 500 to 550 students. The new school is designed to hold 750 to 1,200 students.
Along with a new building, the school will have a new curriculum. The new curriculum will be based on the academy concept in which students will choose a major to study, said Rose Campbell, the elementary school principal.
There will also be new programs implemented to help students improve their academics.
Aspiring For Success is a program directed toward FAMU DRS high school students. These students will interact with FAMU students, faculty and community leaders. Through this program, students will have access to mentoring tutoring, work experience and occupational training.
The school will also continue to have the current mentor programs with the College of Education, School of Environmental Sciences and Americorp. “We have a good, strong relationship with the College of Education,” Campbell said.
FAMU DRS administrators also have plans to provide summer programs for students.
“We’re also looking at for the summer providing students with the Step Up program,” Jennings said. She said the program will help fifth graders adjust to middle school and help the eighth graders adjust to high school.
“It will provide a head start with the new demand of the curriculum,” she said.
For the past six years, FAMU DRS has received no higher than a C for its school grade, however the school has made several improvements this academic school year.
Among academic progress, FAMU DRS has enjoyed significant highlights this year. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools unconditionally recognized the school for continually holding accreditation for the past 50 years at the national conference in Orlando. The school was less than twenty points away from earning a score of 380, which equals a B grade.Students have also made adequate progress in reading according to the Florida Department of Education.
The “number one goal” for the students at FAMU DRS is academic achievement, Jennings said.
The school progressed from a D school to a C school and was points away from earning a B grade. With the school moving to a new location, there are questions about what will happen to the current building. Charles Lewis, director of construction operations, said the plans are still being discussed.