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Hooah, another military-esque school to boost grades: so far, so good. (Notebook: education information from schools, business, research and professional organizations).

Forestville Military Academy in Maryland opened this fall with 938 9-12th graders in hopes of increasing student achievement.

What was once Forestville High School--reportedly among the lowest performing schools in Prince George's County--is now a military academy. Students wear U.S. Army class B uniforms to erase any talk of fashion or teenage-like concerns. In unison at the start of class, students yell, "Motivated, motivated, downright motivated. You could check us out You could check us out Hooah."

"The difference will be that the student [in uniform] will take the focus off daily fashion statements," says Major Clement Goodwine, executive officer of JROTC and a retired U.S. Army major. "It helps students settle down and be in a disciplined environment, give them focus. ... After they look around, they see themselves as one unit."

A study group in 2000 considered opening such an academy after the county's school superintendent aimed to improve county students' discipline, test scores and academic standards, Goodwine says.

While it is part of the public school system, the U.S. Army funds part of it, he says. The average class size is around 22 students, and eight retired Army officials teach class.

It is among a few schools nationwide pushing more discipline. About 710 students take ROTC classes that teach in part about the roles of the military, its history and the flag.

The school does not push students into the military, Goodwine says, but to seek a post-secondary school, technical school or trade school. "We want to make them better students academically, personally and professionally," he says.

It's too early to see progress, but at the Chicago Military Academy, which opened three years ago, 560 9-12th graders are seemingly getting it. Operated entirely under the Chicago public school system, attendance rate hovers around 99 percent with no drop-outs, according to Frank C. Bacon, Jr., academy superintendent and retired Army brigadier general. The predominantly African-American and Latino student population do well on assessment tests, he says, with 64 percent of the students scoring above the normal national math average and 56 percent of students scoring above normal in reading.

"We don't brainwash, but we do a good job in conditioning the mind--that they can be one of the best," Bacon says. "All they have to do is work hard and work hard some more and learn how to follow instructions and do some homework."

Bill Taylor, who studied the Junior ROTC, says students in military-style academies do "a heck of a lot better than their peers" academically.

"It's a sense of purpose," Taylor says. "It's doing something special. They are more proud of the work they do."

www.pgcps.pg.k12.md.us/~military
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Title Annotation:Forestville Military Academy
Author:Pascopella, Angela
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Words:448
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