HOPE – The Hope Public Schools open for the 2019-2020 academic year Aug. 8 in the middle of ongoing progress.
“We have made great strides over the last few years, and our future is bright,” Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said. “This year’s theme is ‘Reaching New Heights.’ While we have come a long way, we can still accomplish more.”
School-based health clinic
The district will open the first-ever school-based health clinic in Hempstead County with the start of classes on Aug. 13, and will have ribbon cutting ceremonies in conjunction with the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. on the Hope High School campus.
“Our school-based health clinic would not be possible without the support of our community,” Dr. Hart said. “From the onset of the project, all of Hope has provided us with everything we’ve needed and more.”
A $500,000 renovation and operations start-up grant through the Arkansas Department of Education brought the clinic from plan to reality from set-asides of the state tobacco excise tax. Those funds will sustain the start-up through the initial five years of operations, after which the district will assume the continuing costs of the facility in the former Consumer and Family Sciences “cottage” on the Hope High School campus.
Much of the furnishings and equipment in the facility has been donated through Wadley Regional Medical Center-Hope and Pafford Emergency Medical Services in Hope.
“I can’t wait to see how this facility will impact our kids and community,” Hart said.
The health center is designed provide both physical and mental health components including immunizations, wellness visits, athletics physicals, acute care, vision exams, dental exams, health education, and training about preventative health, as well as mental assessments, referrals, counseling, and medication management.
Hope Collegiate Academy
The pilot program developed on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus last year has become the Hope Collegiate Academy, with an anticipated class of 54 sophomore and junior students in its first full year of operation beginning Aug. 13.
The enrollment includes 22 sophomores and 23 juniors, according to Hart.
“The junior group will be integrated into the regular student population daily,” he said. “This is a first, and we are excited for those students, as well as the incoming sophomore class.”
The program is housed in the Johnny Rapert Library Complex on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus, and will immerse students into college level studies through the 12th grade to graduate with a Hope High School diploma and an Associate’s Degree or Professional Certification from UAHT simultaneously and free of cost.
“This program is one that Hope Public Schools is proud to offer, and is a program we believe sets us apart from any school district in our area,” Hart said.
Students must meet the residency requirements of the Hope Public School District and must be enrolled as a Hope Public School student.
The HCP Academy is a public school, and is free of charge. A maximum of 60 college credit hours is attainable that will transfer a student to a four-year college or university as a junior; or, provide a student with a workforce-ready degree or certification.
The innovations of the Hope Academy of Public Service model are incorporated into the parent/student/academy compact required of each student and their parents. But, HCA students will be held to a higher standard of rigor and will require greater adaptation to student pathway success than the traditional high school or the current HAPS model.
Classes are taught by UAHT faculty.
“The success of year one and the plan have been so well executed that Texarkana Arkansas School District is starting their own program,” Hart said.
Student needs pantry services
Campus food pantries will provide distributions on an as needed basis; will be inventoried on a regular basis; and, will have a single point of contact for each campus to receive donations and distribute food and other items.
“We are still searching for the best method of operation for our pantries,” Hart said.”They are available and stocked; but, we hope to increase student and family use this year.”
Hart said the only qualification to receive items from the food pantry is that a student be enrolled in the Hope Public Schools. He said the HPSD does not intend to compete with other local needs programs, only to put what it can make available directly on campuses.
Examples of recommended food items for donation include Pop Tarts, individually-packaged peanut butter crackers, individual serving cans of Vienna sausage, individually-packaged dry cereals, individually-packaged trail mix, individually-packaged cheese crackers, individually-packaged pre-prepared tuna servings, individually-packaged fruit cup, and individually-packaged noodle cup.
Community and parental engagement continue to play a vital part in the district’s ability to understand and respond to student needs, Hart said.
“We plan to hold more town halls and collect more data around what parents want and students need.” He said. “Providing services to all families is one of our top priorities."