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Article and Photo courtesy of Daily Dispatch

Teacher Carice Sanchez looks over her excited fourth graders before picking one to answer a question during reading class at Henderson Collegiate Tuesday afternoon. The charter school is currently taking enrollment applications. (Daily Dispatch/ASHLEY STEVEN AYSCUE)

Enrollment is in full swing at Henderson’s newest charter school, with two grade levels now being offered. Henderson Collegiate Charter School’s original class of fourth graders, who started classes on Aug. 18, 2010, is set to move up to the fifth grade next school year, making room for a new fourth grade class.

“Out of the 105 spots open for the Pride of 2020, 45 students have already enrolled,” Henderson Collegiate Principal Eric Sanchez said. “We definitely expect to fill this up before enrollment ends.”

Enrollment started on March 1 and will end on April 1. If more than 105 students enroll before April 1, the school will use a lottery to fill the spots.

“The enrollment period is a way of making it fair for everyone who applies,” Sanchez said. “If more than 105 students apply, then we will hold a lottery to make sure everything is completely random.”

Henderson Collegiate is a charter school, which means it takes any students who apply as long as room is available, without consideration of academic performance, ethnicity or family income. Charter schools receive state funding, the same as public schools, but operate outside of the local school district.

“What makes our school special is the amount of involvement from both parents and teachers,” Sanchez said. “The goal of being extraordinary is not attainable without extraordinary teachers.”

School days are longer at Henderson Collegiate compared to traditional public schools, with students attending classes Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. A two-week, mandatory summer school is also held in August.

“We make sure students get to do interesting things along with academics,” Sanchez said. “The Pride of 2019 (the school’s first class) have been on ice skating trips, museum trips and others.”

The unique approach of Henderson Collegiate has produced results Sanchez and the other teachers at the school are very proud of.

“The students’ growth academically and socially has been pretty incredible,” Sanchez said. “It is a good feeling to see students learning and enjoying it.”

Henderson Collegiate, which is located on Health Care Service Road, will have to expand every year to accommodate a new grade. The REEF Center is expected to be the home of the Pride in the future.

“Moving to the REEF Center is definitely something we are looking into,” Sanchez said. “If we do relocate there, it will be three years before we do so.”

Henderson Collegiate is getting a new 8,000 square-foot building in anticipation of doubling its size.

Vance County is also the home of Vance Charter School, which opened in 1999 and was the first charter school in the county. Kindergarten through eighth grade are offered there. Applications for the 2011-2012 school year were accepted Jan.10-Feb. 18. The school’s admissions lottery took place March 5.

Contact the writer at jhuff@hendersondispatch.com

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