Prince George’s holds Academic Fair, showcasing its school options

Karen and Reynaldo Dudley of Glenn Dale were on the prowl Wednesday night, in search of a suitable educational program for their son, who will be a high school freshman next fall.

The Dudleys and hundreds of other parents moved throughout the exhibit hall in the cafeteria at Eleanor Roosevelt High School gathering information about the specialty programs, career academies and public charter schools offered in Prince George’s County.

Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell is in the process of doing an inventory of the specialty programs offered in the district and plans to address which programs could be expanded and what others could be created. He is hoping to lure parents back to the public school system by providing more options.

The school system has seven specialty programs, including French immersion, Middle College and International Baccalaureate. It has a dozen career academies, including Homeland Security, Architecture and Design and Environmental Studies. And there are 10 public charter schools, the majority of which are run by Imagine and Chesapeake.

On Wednesday night, program directors and teachers were on hand to provide information on the current options. Students who attend various programs were making pitches and answering questions for parents. Students in arts programs played the violin and walked around in ballet outfits and chorus robes.

The Dudleys said they are looking for another option for their son, who, based on zoning, would attend DuVal High School next year.

“We’re trying to get him out of that environment,” Reynaldo Dudley said.

Karen Dudley said she just wants her son to be engaged and is worried that at the wrong school, he could have trouble academically.

“The county has a lot of different programs,” Karen Dudley said. “If you are not forward-thinking, your child can get lost in the shuffle.”

Karen Dudley said she was intrigued by what Chesapeake Math and IT Academy had to offer.

Tanya Quinn’s hands were full of pamphlets.

There were some from the county’s French Immersion program. A brochure from the Imagine charter schools. And some information about the school system’s visual and performing arts.

She said she was leaning toward one of the Imagine charter schools for her son, who is going into sixth grade.

“I like the concept of the specialty school,” said Quinn, who has two younger children in John Hanson French Immersion School.

Unlike other public schools, charter schools and other speciality programs are selective, she said. She plans to enter her son into the lottery system and “pray for a miracle.”

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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