UNG, Forsyth County Schools partner on new high school

When Forsyth County Schools first discussed building a seventh high school adjacent to UNG’s Cumming Campus, Jason Pruitt was ready and willing to assist.

“When Valery Lowe (the college and career development director for Forsyth County Schools) said they were thinking about a magnet school, I was thinking there is an opportunity here for us to partner,” said Pruitt, the UNG Cumming Campus executive director. “She laid out the plan and asked ‘What do you think?’ I said ‘That’s great’ and I was all in on it.”

UNG agreed to partner with Forsyth County Schools to provide programs and dual-enrollment options for the county’s Alliance Academy for Innovation.

“UNG is partnering with this new school to expose students to potential career paths and college opportunities,” UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. “Initiatives like this result in a vibrant workforce that serves as the foundation for economic and social prosperity.”

The Alliance Academy plans to provide an interdisciplinary curriculum with a culture of teamwork, creative thinking, collaboration, and communication. It will feature five interest-themed academies or schools including aerospace and logistics, criminal justice and law, health care and first responders, hospitality and design, and mechatronics and energy. Each school will be aligned to a Career and Technical Student Organization. The Alliance Academy will also offer Advanced Placement courses, dual enrollment, work-based learning, and honors mentorship opportunities for students.

UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business and the College of Arts and Letters’ criminal justice department are already working with the school system to assist with programming.

Principal Brandi Cannizzaro said school officials met with UNG’s criminal justice department in September to share experience and resources. They also are looking at utilizing the scenario house on the Dahlonega Campus in the future.

“They said we could bring the kids on field trips and help develop our department and curriculum,” Cannizzaro said.

Alliance Academy students also will have access to the Cumming Campus since its proximity is across the street. The academy is on 23 acres located off Lanier 400 Parkway in Cumming.

“At the UNG Cumming Campus, you can look out at the parking lot and see the new school,” Lowe said. “It’s just on a different street.”

Slated to open in August 2018, it will serve about 1,200 students, who will have to apply.

Cannizzaro feels likes the partnership between UNG and Forsyth is similar to winning the lottery.

“I love the fact that we are partnering with a post-secondary institution, and one so close to home,” she said. “We really see that as great opportunity to collaborate on classes through dual enrollment and potentially have our students continue onto UNG after they graduate. It is going to be great exposure and win-win for our school as well as UNG.”