Cave City to transition middle school to charter school

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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CAVE CITY, Ark. (KAIT) - Many high schools in the state are charter schools, but one Region 8 school will become just the sixth charter middle school in the state.

Cave City administrators say they want to prepare students not just for high school but also for the workplace.

Officials say the program has been a success at the high school, and now, it will be extended all the way down to the middle school level.

“The charter program at the high school is giving students the opportunity to achieve some certifications,” Middle School Assistant Principal Dr. Cheryl Bell said. “They can gain meaningful employment right out of high school.”

Now, as kids at Cave City Middle School finish the year, each of the near-300 students will return in August to a new type of school. A model Bell and Middle School Principal, Mark Smith, wanted to carry all the way down to sixth grade.

“We really felt like we wanted to do a better job of getting our students ready for high school,” Smith said.

If students are interested in leadership, agriculture, or medicine, they can schedule classes and activities solely designed around those fields, such as simulators helping students learn how to weld and use farm equipment or using a test dummy to practice CPR.

If a student is not interested in those topics, they can still go the traditional route without taking the charter option, and no changes will be made.

Smith says it’s all about preparing students for life after school.

“We don’t feel like this is too early to start thinking about maybe what you want to do later on,” Smith said.

Thinking long-term is something eighth-grader Ivette Galan is already doing. Galan was one of 18 students certified in many emergency situations this year, including CPR and ‘stop the bleed,’ as part of the school’s Scrub Club.

She says the new charter school will help her learn what it’s like to be in the medical field.

“I feel really mature and grown-up because I get to work on stuff like that,” Galan said. “Some people at other schools wouldn’t be able to work like that.”

The district received a grant from the state to help start the program at the middle school. Bell and Smith say they plan on using it to purchase equipment and renovate classrooms over the summer to prepare the school for the transition.

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