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Board of Education renames school in Forsyth County

CUMMING — One of Forsyth County’s alternative public schools will open its doors this fall under a new name aimed at better reflecting its mission.

As of July 1, iAchieve Virtual Academy will become known as the Forsyth Virtual Academy. The Forsyth County Board of Education approved the change at its monthly meeting Thursday night.

The renaming, which passed in  a 4-0 vote with District 1 member Ann Crow absent to accept an award at the CASA Light of Hope ceremony, was requested by the school’s director, Susan Atkins.

“We want the name to represent the identity of the county,” she said. “Since beginning, we have learned our name does not clearly communicate exactly what we do.”

Atkins said she has come across parents and students who do not realize the academy is an accredited middle and high school that is a public school and part of the county system.

The school offers students the chance to engage in a digital learning environment “to achieve their individual potential through innovative, flexible and student-focused education,” according to the school website.

“It is serving students who need an alternative experience, and it helps meet the needs of all students,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden.

According to Bearden, students who enroll in the virtual academy also help relieve crowding at the five traditional high schools and that the renaming “makes sense.”

Any student in the county can attend, whether entering middle or high school, coming from home or private school or transferring from another school within the district.

Atkins noted other school district-operated online programs in the area include the county’s name, such as Cobb Virtual Academy, Gwinnett Online Campus and Fulton Virtual.

Renaming the school will accompany a new marketing plan and rebranding to grow enrollment, Atkins said.

“There were 87 students enrolled in August 2014 when I assumed responsibility,” she said.

Currently, there are about 225 students attending the online school. Atkins added that there has been less fluctuation in student enrollment throughout the year.

The virtual school will still fall under the district’s Academies of Creative Education, which includes two schools — the renamed Forsyth Virtual Academy and the Alliance Academy for Innovation, which is projected to open in fall 2018 — and two programs — Forsyth Academy and Gateway Academy.