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Alliance Academy reaches milestone in construction
Alliance Academy construction

Looking out from the second floor of the Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County, the county’s green hills seem to stretch for miles, the mid-morning sun pouring into what will ultimately be the school’s cafeteria.

Though concrete blocks outline where the academy’s windows will be — with 10 and a half months left of construction, the glass has not yet been installed — the school’s 1,200 students will arguably have the best view in the county.

Alliance Academy Q&A

Question: What makes Alliance Academy different?

  • Answer: Unlike other public high schools, the academy solely offers career pathways – industry-specialization programs intended to give students real-world experience and graduate with industry certifications and sometimes two years of college.

Q: Who can attend?

  • A: Though it is a public high school, Forsyth students will have to apply to attend. More information will be provided as the school nears its August 2018 opening.

Q: What programs are offered?

  • A: Alliance Academy will offer five schools, each with several pathways within them not duplicated at any other high schools: criminal justice and law, aerospace and logistics, healthcare and first responders, hospitality and design and mechatronics and energy.

Q: What will graduates earn?

  • A: Students will complete all Georgia high school graduation requirements and will also graduate with specific industry certification and, in some cases, two years of college credit.

Q: Will clubs and sports be offered like regular high schools?

  • A: While the academy will not offer sports, each school will be aligned to a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO), including DECA, FRC, HOSA, SkillsUSA and TSA. It will also offer Advanced Placement courses and Move on When Ready, work-based learning, and honors mentorship opportunities.

On Thursday, Alliance Academy marked another construction milestone by holding a topping out ceremony, bringing the career and workforce development public high school one step closer to its August 2018 opening.

The event, a tradition where the last steel beam is placed on a structure that is being built, also included a tour of the campus and building, which is located off Lanier 400 Parkway in Cumming.

“This symbolizes the point of the project where we’re structurally complete,” said Brian Daniel, president of Carroll Daniel Construction, the project’s general contractor. “It’s a turning point for the team that’s out here building the job, and it’s certainly a cause for celebration.”

The academy will provide secondary, post-secondary and continuing education for students, organizations, small businesses and corporations, along with financial literacy and business ethics training for middle and high school students.

It will be the county’s eighth public high school, adding to the five brick-and-mortar campuses already in existence and the Forsyth Virtual Academy. Denmark High School is also expected to open in fall 2018.

The school, which will focus on real-life training and certification for high-demand, high-growth, high-wage professions, is unlike any other instructional facility in the county, according Valery Lowe, director of college and career development for Forsyth County Schools.

“Really, the school was derived from the needs of the business community,” she said. “We started working on this almost 10 years ago with the community to try to have a school to keep kids focused and engaged and maybe find their niche in a little bit of  a smaller learning community than our traditional high schools.

Alliance Academy will offer five schools, each of which will have several pathways within them not offered at any other high school.

The schools will be: criminal justice and law, aerospace and logistics, healthcare and first responders, hospitality and design and mechatronics and energy.

The building will also be home to the Junior Achievement Mike and Lynn Cottrell Discovery Center at North Georgia, an immersive simulation where middle school students explore industries and careers and obtain foundational knowledge in select business and finance operations.

Two other JA centers currently exist in Georgia – one in Atlanta and one in Gwinnett.

“I think that’s really what’s made this so unique,” Lowe said. “No matter what program we’re putting in the school, our business partners and our community members have been at the table helping us.”