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Offering magnet school electives for academic competitions

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Having a gifted and talented magnet theme can help students vying for state and national academic titles.

As noted in today's article, a team from Carnage Middle School won first place at the state level and will now represent North Carolina in the National History Day contest. They produced a documentary on the state's former eugenics program.

The Wake County magnet students got time to work on the project because Carnage offers a wide range of electives, including for academic competitions. One such elective is for students to participate in National History Day.

Another Carnage group finished in third place in the junior documentary category, one spot shy of making it to the national competition. They interviewed Superintendent Tony Tata for their documentary on what's happened since Brown vs. Board of Education, including whether Wake could resegregate following the end of the diversity policy.


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The block schedule is part of the problem at non-magnet middle schools. With eight 45-minute periods a day, the school has the flexibility to offer OM or whatever. With every core teacher required to offer an elective period or two, it's super-easy for any school to offer competition prep classes without stretching the budget. ESL can be offered as an actual daily class instead of a pull-out. For kids who aren't doing well, there is the opportunity to offer study halls and math and language labs.

more than just math day

Students can take Odyssey of the Mind as an elective at Ligon.  That gives them an advantage over students who have to meet on weekends or evenings and rely on volunteers to coach.  I don't know all the offering but Battle of, SAT Prep, Science Olympiad, and Future Cities are on the list of electives.  They all prep for competition.


I meant Battle of the Books, not sure how those words got dropped.

As a parent who was an OM

As a parent who was an OM coach for 4 years, with 2 of those years also serving as the OM coordinator for the school I can attest to that!  I do know that Ligon kids still meet on Saturdays closer to the competition, but that's to be expected.  Trying to recruit parent coaches & coordinate practices outside of school can be incredibly difficult. 

E Millbrook has Future Cities through the MSEN/Pre-College Program & AG kids get enrolled in Model UN one semester each year (if scheduling allows--it usually does) and get the opportunity to compete in statewide competitions 2 times a year.  I think those are the only 2 competitions that involve classes.  We have Battle of the Books but it is an extracurricular.  Not sure about any others.

been there

The first OM competition I attended I ended up sitting next to some Carnage kids during one of the competitions.  I was shocked when I found out they were there with their teacher and that they met during school.  It was our first year doing OM and we had no idea how it worked at other schools.  As you said coordinating practice sessions at night or on the weekends was difficult. 

I wish all of our schools

I wish all of our schools would incorporate some of the principles of OM into the classroom.  Or even for it to be one of the 'specials' that elems offer.  The spontaneous problem solving is amazing for developing creativity and quick thinking in kids.  Schools could do a modified version of a long term problem where the kids would then present their solutions at an assembly.  It wouldn't have to be scored or have quite as many rules but to have the kids work on a project like that would be incredible. 


That's a great idea! OM brings together so many areas - science, math, writing, performing arts, social studies, etc.  And if parents with no experience can coach you wouldn't even need to have a specialized teacher, though it would be helpful to have one with training in problem solving and creative thinking.  

I 100% Agree!

And I would volunteer to help/support/mentor the teachers that have no experience with OM, etc to get it going in my schools!  In fact I bet there are lots of people like me that would help out - it's truly that awesome for the kids to have any kind of OM experiences!!!

great elective

This sounds like a great elective, one that wouldn't be hard to offer in every middle school.  I would have loved this choice for my son is middle school besides Career Directions (this class was a joke), Art (which he couldn't get into), Technology (basically typing), and music (unfortunately not his interest).  

Would love to know the

Would love to know the breakdown of base kids vs. magnet kids in these great classes.  Any way to get this Keung?

Also would be great to have these classes spread out at all schools to give ALL kids a chance to have access to these classes--without the extra cost of busing them in from all over the county.

Don't know the breakdown for

Don't know the breakdown for that class. As for your other question about the facilities meeting, I was running late yesterday so I got there after they had left for the day. I'm checking on who did show up.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.