Howe Hall siblings policy extended through middle school

  • Thursday, February 13, 2014

A popular arts elementary school may become easier for students to enroll in if they have siblings who have advanced to the arts middle school.

Any student in the Berkeley County School District entering grades kindergarten through fifth can apply for Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School (AIMS).

Only a small percentage of applicants are selected for the Goose Creek elementary school’s lottery each year.

At the rescheduled Feb. 4 Berkeley County School Board meeting in Moncks Corner, the board approved Howe Hall AIMS Principal Chris Swetckie’s proposal to change enrollment eligibility.

The changes in policy allow for a student who has a sibling attending AIMS or Marrington Middle School of the Arts to enroll at AIMS.

AIMS is a feeder school into MMS, which then feeds into a similar arts program at Goose Creek High School.

“It extends the siblings policy through the eighth grade,” Superintendent Rodney Thompson said. “It affects very few families, but is helpful. Some of these families drive a long way.”

Parents and guardians are responsible for transportation of their students to and from the school. Students may also be eligible for AIMS if they have a parent or legal guardian employed at AIMS or MMS. The lottery selection is the other way to be eligible.

Swetckie brought the proposed changes to the school improvement council, who approved.

Applications are due before the first day of April and must be mailed to AIMS. Applications are available at all county schools and the district website, www.bcsdschools.net.

Families will receive a written notification prior to the first day of May.

Swetckie presented application data of the last two years he’s been principal at the school.

He calls these “legitimate applications” because a lot of people from Charleston and Dorchester counties send applications and several parents send multiple applications to try to increase their chances, he said.

In 2012 there were 424 applications and 65 students were selected from that lottery. In 2013 there were 530 applications, a 25 percent increase, Swetckie said.

“This year 600 legitimate applications are expected,” Swetckie said. “Based on our enrollment, 60 to 65 are expected to be selected.”

The arts magnet program first opened in 2001. Its mission is to include the arts as an essential component of the curriculum to optimize student achievement. These teachings include dance, drama, music, visual art physical education and Spanish.

AIMS receive a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award in 2010. MMS receive the National Blue Ribbon Award in 2012.

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