Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Allows First Peek into the New T.C. Satellite Campus
The Campus Ushers in a New Era of Learning Experiences for Alexandria's High School Students
Alexandria, Va. — Today, officials from Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the City of Alexandria cut a ceremonial red and white ribbon to officially introduce the T.C. Satellite Campus, located in Landmark Mall in Alexandria. The T.C. Satellite Campus is the first comprehensive, nontraditional satellite high school campus in Northern Virginia, delivering a 21st-century curriculum, including a hybrid online/onsite course load, flexible scheduling, internships, one-on-one student-centered support and a new pathway to graduation that fits the needs of a diverse group of students.
Close to 100 supporters came to view the new learning center, meet with staff and encourage students. A brief program included Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille, Alexandria City School Board Chairman Sheryl Gorsuch, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Morton Sherman, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Madye Henson, satellite students and a parent, among others from the City, ACPS and community and corporate partner organizations.
Relating a conversation with a resident concerning Alexandria's public schools, Mayor Euille told guests that every Alexandria family should come and investigate what's going on at ACPS, rather than say they've "heard" things. What they're likely to find, he shared, are extraordinary learning experiences, like the T.C. Satellite Campus, led by a group of professionals who are devoted to the City's children. He said that's why when the idea for the satellite campus was first brought to him, the City immediately bought in and committed to funding it.
And to answer questions about a school campus being in a mall, he declared to rousing applause, "There's nothing wrong with hanging out at the mall, especially when you can get an education there."
Henson, who spearheaded the development of the campus, thanked the community for "rallying behind an effort that will impact the lives of many students, including a significant number that were off-track for graduation." Chairman Gorsuch noted how the campus empowers students to take their education in their own hands and make it work for their individual circumstances.
John Olsen, an ACPS parent and executive vice president of operations for the selected online course provider, Aventa K12, has worked closely with ACPS and the T.C. Satellite Campus. He pledged continued investments into ACPS as a way of giving back. "What differentiates ACPS is they know where they are going," he told attendees. "You have to put the right support mechanisms in place to help meet students' individual needs."
Students were on hand and addressed the audience on exactly how the T.C. Satellite Campus has been a positive solution for them. Andrew Bangura, for example, called the campus "a dream come true" and a big help when it comes to time management, and Kristopher Whitehead told how the schedule flexibility and the chance to pace his learning with supportive staff made school enjoyable.
The T.C. Satellite Campus opened with the rest of schools on Sept. 4. Currently, 98 students are registered to attend, and Principal James Wilson stated that "he was thrilled with the enthusiasm and academic progress of the students, as well as the support in the school division and community."
Students are required to attend the Satellite a minimum of 20 hours weekly. They take classes online, and some take CTE courses at the main T.C. Williams High School campus. A few students have already completed courses and have raised the bar, by working onsite and offsite for many more than the required hours to graduate early.
The idea for the new Satellite Campus evolved from Alexandria City School Board priorities regarding increasing graduation rates, decreasing dropout rates and better managing the issues of students. T.C. Williams High School is the largest grades 9-12 school in the state, with more than 3,000 students. It has seen some of the greatest gains in history in AP exams and standardized assessments, yet ACPS officials recognized that one size does not fit all when it comes to educating Alexandria's youth. Some students may feel overwhelmed by the size of T.C. Williams; others have family and work responsibilities that put them in danger of falling behind. Still others want to accelerate their learning and get to college faster.
The graduation requirements for satellite students, whether they earn advanced or standard diplomas, are the same as main campus students. Counselors and teaching staff help to tailor programs that are unique to students' real-life needs and map specific paths to graduation for students.
If this new model of learning is successful, as predicted, ACPS is poised to launch additional satellite campuses in the coming school years.
To learn more about the T.C. Satellite Campus, visit http://www.acps.k12.va.us/satellite/.