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New Alternative School Set to Open Here

When the 2004-05 school year begins in September, Alexandria will have a new high school — the Howard Gardner Transitional School.

The school will be located at 25 South Quaker Lane and will have an initial enrollment of between 16 and 24 students in grades 9—12. The director is Katherine Keith.

“We decided to open the school because we saw so many teenagers who were not succeeding in traditional high school environments,” Keith said. “These are bright, talented young people who need a nurturing environment in order to succeed.”

The school is named for Howard Gardner, who created the theory of multiple intelligences. “Intelligence is not just limited to math, science and English,” said Emily Pavot, who will be a mentor teacher and who will work with students who have learning disabilities. “Some students who might not do well on standardized tests might be able to look around a room and understand the people in the room or they might have very good self awareness. We have one student, for example, who is terrific with plants.”

The curriculum will feature active, hands-on learning with a focus on environmental science and the arts. “Everything is connected,” Keith said. “We will use art and environmental science throughout our entire curriculum.”

THE SCHOOL WILL be housed in space that was previously occupied by the Foundation School. “We will begin with three fulltime teachers and will use guest teachers to instruct students in a variety of subjects,” Keith said. “The students will help design their own individualized curriculum.”

Classes will begin at 10 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m. Electives will be offered one hour prior to school and one hour after school. One day a week will be designated for internships and one day will be used for field trips, leaving students in the classroom for the remaining three days.

Valerie Wexler, a sophomore, is thinking about enrolling in the Transitional School next year. “It seems like students will get a lot of individual attention,” Valerie said. “I am thinking about coming.”

The tuition will be $13,500 a year. “Scholarships are available,” Keith said. “Also, we only take kids who want to be here. We don’t want parents to force them to come.”

While the curriculum is individualized to an extent, it prepares students for college and is geared to college admission requirements. “We will work with the students on writing essays and the other things that are required for succeeding in college,” Keith said.

There will be an open house at the school on April 28. For more information, call 703-836-8400 or visit the web site at www.thetransitionalschool.org.