Thursday, April 14, 2016

[408] MTSU, Blackman High academy 'cap' first year of unique partnership

Inaugural Capstone Gallery Walk showcases research projects of graduating seniors

MURFREESBORO — Blackman High School’s library and rotunda buzzed with activity recently as 24 of the school’s high achieving seniors showcased their research projects to the public as part of the inaugural class of the Blackman Collegiate Academy.

A unique partnership with MTSU, the academy seeks to better prepare Blackman students for the rigors of higher education. Juniors and seniors in the academy who meet eligibility standards can to take up to six hours of university courses taught by MTSU instructors at no cost. Credits will count on high school and college transcripts.

Blackman High Principal Leisa Justus, who was all smiles as she surveyed the students’ project displays, said the March 22 inaugural Capstone Gallery Walk represented the culmination of the graduating seniors’ research in their chosen areas of study, ranging from information technology to math and science to performing arts.

That research also needed to be connected with a community service project, resulting in a wide variety of efforts and interests: a student presentation to the local school about the benefits of installing solar panels at Blackman; a school drive to collect broken computers that could be refurbished and donated to students unable to afford them; a walkability study of the Blackman area; and a new music video promoting the importance of performing arts at the school, to name a few.

“This was exactly the vision,” Justus said. “To see students do something beyond their wildest dreams of what they could achieve, and see them do it with style and grace and confidence. They’re ready … and they’re going to impact others around them when they get to a college campus.”

MTSU’s support has been critical, she added, noting that university coordinated a campus tour for academy students, opened its writing lab to help students complete their research papers, provided students access to other campus facilities and provided mentors to assist some of them with their projects. In addition, the courses are taught on Blackman’s campus in west Murfreesboro.

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