Drew Senior Academy: Completing the ‘Cradle to College’ Quest

By D. Aileen Dodd Contributing Writer | 8/9/2013, 6 a.m.
Chelsea Cole, a seventh grader at Charles Drew Charter School, is being groomed for graduation in a program that supports ...
The construction of a high school will complete the Drew campus, which opened in 2000 during the $103 million renewal of the East Lake district.

“What we know through research is that students who collaborate in college are the most successful,” said McKnight. “They form study groups. They know how to learn and get information. They’re self-directed.”

This week, students in a computer research class at Drew were learning how to use PCs to locate data, web sites and other information that can help them in their classes.

Drew’s academic aggressiveness has produced results. Last year, students made high marks on the Georgia Criterion Referenced- Competency Test. Ninety-seven percent in grades 3-through-8 met or exceeded standards on the state exam. On subject tests for grades 3-through-8, 99 percent met or exceeded standards in reading and language arts; 98 percent met or exceeded standards in math; 97 percent met or exceeded standards in social studies; and 93 percent met or exceeded standards in science, according to state performance data.

Six in 10 students at Drew on average are considered economically disadvantaged and meet the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for free and reduced price lunch.

“Our test scores are extremely competitive with any school of high wealth (students),” Doran said.

Drew’s vision for East Atlanta has won the support of the community, which is donating 90 percent of the $73 million needed for the new campus. Gov. Nathan Deal attended the ground-breaking ceremony. The construction project is being funded in part by philanthropists and local businesses, which have donated millions of dollars to fund the expansion.

“The community has stepped up in a major way to offer their support,” Doran said. “There is great hope that Southeast Atlanta will become a destination for families with children.”

The Drew campus is already a community center and the high school will add to its draw, Doran added.

Community groups use the current facility for meetings. On Monday, the mayor of Atlanta was on campus for an event.

Getting into Drew Senior Academy won’t be easy. It could require some patience. Current Drew students get first preference. Newcomers must compete for slots in a lottery. Students can enter at any grade. 

This school year, 1,600 people applied for seats in a Drew School which currently educates 1,200 students.

The next registration process begins in January 2014.

Kaylah Richards, a seventh grader who entered Drew for the first time last week said she is impressed. She intends to stay at Drew through graduation.

“At other schools, you don’t get computers or have art, dance and engineering classes,” she said. “The teachers here are serious about making sure students learn.”