"Today we learn, tomorrow we lead."
Greetings Titan Community,
As the calendar turns to Spring, we reflect on the tremendous progress we are making in accomplishing our goal of being the best high school in Baltimore County and the state of Maryland. Our students are hard at work each day to help us accomplish these goals and our teachers continue to embrace that vision. We celebrated over 250 students earning Honor Roll status and 215 students achieving perfect attendance for 2nd quarter at our Scholars Reception. Our seniors have begun to receive their college acceptances and scholarship offers, and we could not be more proud of the accomplishments our Titans are making.
As we continue to progress towards our goal of going from good to great, we want to ensure that all of our students are College and Career Ready. Equity and access to rigorous courses and enhanced support programs has been our focus in order for our students to be more nationally competitive for college admissions or career preparation. As students have selected their courses for next year, we have encouraged them to select courses that will provide a solid foundation for college readiness. Taking the most rigorous academic courses in our instructional program is the key to students being College and Career Ready. While all students may not be suited to taking upper level courses, we encourage students in standard courses to take at least 1-2 honors courses next year and students in honors courses to take at least 1-2 Advanced Placement (AP) courses next year. We have been engaged in collaborative discussion this year to increase academic support for students in multiple AP courses and for students engaged in an AP course for the first time. We are committed to students enrolling in AP courses by providing in-school support that will be made available as part of a child’s schedule next year. We strongly encourage students to take AP course and understand the long-term benefits for college preparation and admissions.
I have the unique perspective of working on both sides of the arena of evaluating college criteria for admissions at a major university, as well as planning for the admissions process with high school students during my years as a school counselor. College admissions has become a very competitive adventure for students and for parents; taking the right courses, raising his or her grade point average, increasing his or her class rank, college entrance exam performance, community involvement, and service learning are all considered by colleges when evaluating an applicant. What does a competitive college candidate look like? It depends on the college. College admissions criteria falls into four categories: highly selective, selective, traditional, and open. College applicants are competing with applicants across the country, and increasingly, around the world. Presenting a well-rounded college admissions profile is vital for success in getting into schools as well as receiving scholarship money. Students are encouraged to begin their admission research as early as middle school in order to develop a strong college admission profile. As early as 9th grade, your student should begin visiting colleges, attending college fairs, and requesting college information in order to stay current with his or her college of choice. Students and parents often wait until a student’s junior or senior year to begin the search process, and that is often too late to alter a student profile. Our School Counseling Department offers many opportunities for students and parents to explore the college application process. We encourage students and parents to make individual appointments with their child’s Professional School Counselor and participation in School Counseling Department hosted evening programs throughout the school year such as College Knowledge Night and our free FAFSA workshops.
Our objective is for all of our Titans to compete with students locally and nationally. This begins by working with students and parents to strengthen a student’s high school course program and their overall academic profile. I often engage in discussions with parents and students about the importance of college admission entrance exams (SAT and ACT), and the need to prepare for them both during and outside the school day. College entrance exams are an important component in the admissions process, and are weighted by some colleges more than others. It is crucial that students research each college in order to make the determination how heavily emphasized the SAT or ACT is in the admissions process for his or her college of choice. Want a higher SAT or ACT score? The best preparation is to take rigorous courses in high school that will build vocabulary, develop writing and critical thinking skills, and foster mathematical problem solving skills. Honors and AP courses are suited to challenge students to develop these skills, as well as the collegiate level skills and habits of mind they will need to be successful college students. Students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses must know the importance of taking AP courses. I strongly encourage students to take as many AP courses as possible in order to best prepare for college success and to make themselves more competitive with other national and international applicants. AP courses are nationally standardized courses that are a strong indicator for college readiness. Colleges understand that AP courses and AP exams will be the same no matter what high school a student attends, therefore they are a way many colleges choose to level the playing field between students in different areas of the country or the world. Students should also understand that it is not just taking an AP course, but taking the corresponding AP exam and earning a passing score that colleges consider – particularly if students are looking to earn college credits. In addition to these rigorous exams, the College Board will offer the new SAT in January 2016, and our curriculum will reflect instructional preparation and best practices for students to maximize their performance on the new SAT. Again, the best preparation for increasing SAT and ACT scores are taking rigorous course offerings such as Honors and Advanced Placement courses.
The road ahead at New Town High School will be filled with boundless opportunities for our students and we expect them to embrace the opportunities and challenges rather than take the path of least resistance. We will provide students with engaging and learner-centered experiences as they move forward in their educational pursuit. We want our students to have options, not just alternatives. College and Career Ready students have the options to choose their path and not have their path chosen for them. Thank you for your support as we continue our pursuit of our goal of being the very best.
Kevin L. Whatley
Kevin L. Whatley