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Cabot Schools superintendent Tony Thurman explains the installation of the wood floor in the gymnasium of the Freshman Academy. About 75 parents, community leaders and school administrators were given a tour of the district’s newest campus during the Cabot Schools Showcase held Monday. (Photo by Ed Galucki)

Listen carefully, there will be a test afterward … Cabot School District Superintendent Tony Thurman revived the dreaded phrase for about 80 adults at the Cabot Schools Showcase held Monday at the district central administrative office.

The Showcase told of how Chromebooks, Smartboards and other technological aids to teaching and learning are being put to use in district classrooms.

Each school was featured in a video, produced by students, that told of how each school puts technology to use in classes.

The Showcase included a tour of the Freshman Academy. Portions of the Freshman Academy “could have classes in them tomorrow,” Thurman said.

The Freshman Academy is located beyond Junior High School North, the former location of the baseball and softball fields. The previous ball fields have been replaced by a new baseball/softball complex.

The school will be for ninth graders to ease their transition into high school, Thurman said. During the tour, Thurman explained the rationale for the Academy.

Ninth grade is the most trouble-prone grade, with students making mistakes that later “leave out of the running” for any consideration of scholarships, he said.

At the Academy, the ninth graders are not trying to impress either the eighth graders or the tenth graders, and instead can concentrate on the academic and career technical demands facing them, Thurman said.

The academy will have all the arts, athletics, band, career and technical programs along with core educational programs of high school, Thurman said.

Except for the gym, which will not have bleachers, sports events to be held across the street at the high school.

The Academy mimics the high school design, though somewhat smaller, Thurman said. Though smaller in size, the price tag at about $22 million is a little larger than the $17 million for the high school.

“It is because of the facilities and the technology being built into it,” Thurman said. While there will be books available in the media center, much more of the curriculum will be computer driven, he said.

Each classroom has WiFi capability for connectivity, Thurman said.

Classrooms are set up for “Flex Teaching,” for when teachers wish to combine classes for a subject. Soundproof movable walls divide the rooms for dual classes.

Everything in the Academy is to reduce dropout rates, decrease discipline problems, and increase attendance and achievement, Thurman said.

Indeed there was a test after the videos, pitting red, green, blue and pink teams in a competition for high scores.

A series of videos showing progress on the Freshman Academy can be found on YouTube.

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