“Freedom isn’t free. Education is the key. A community is only as strong as its public school system.”
These were the key points made by Vincent Keeys, President of the Collier County NAACP and Erick Carter, Collier County School Board member.
Mr. Carter presented Collier County Schools’ outstanding growth in success rates over the last decade. We have been an “A” district for the past three years. Only 36 out of the 67 districts in Florida earned an A. Collier County now has an amazing 91.9% graduation rate in 2018, a 19.4% increase since 2011! In 2018, 91% of migrant students graduated, the largest in the state and a 41% increase since 2010. Students with disabilities had a 91% graduation rate, 43% more than in 2010. This is in spite of the demographic shift in the student population. In 2008, there were 43% White students, 11% Black students, and 42% Hispanic students. However, in 2018, the numbers changed to 33% White (down 10%), 11% Black (no change), and 52% Hispanic (up 10%). Plus, the percentage of students in non-English speaking homes went from 42% to 55% in the same decade.
Collier County Schools prepares students for College, Career, and Life Readiness. Students can earn college credit for classes, while High School students can study a diverse variety of classes such as Engineering, Finance, Health, Information Technology, Hospitality, Tourism, and Aviation to mention a few. Students can engage in college preparatory classes at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School (LWTHS), while also participating in career dual enrollment opportunities at Lorenzo Walker Technical College and Immokalee Technical College, respectively.
Mr. Carter described his own experiences at Lorenzo Walker Technical College and how it led to his rewarding career. Some programs are work-based learning experiences, such as internships or on-the-job training, where students can earn pay. Most students have dual enrollment—academic in comprehensive high schools and career dual enrollment at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and College. Acceleration opportunities are also available where students can study for a Cambridge “Advanced International Certificate of Education” (AICE) diploma or earn Advanced Placement (AP) course credit.
Mr. Keeys talked about NAACP’s role in the Collier County Schools. The NAACP promotes and supports the “Raising the Bar” program which is a five-year college prep program, the ACT-SO program (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics), and the Premier Program which partners with the National Flight Academy in Pensacola.
ACT-SO includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, performing, visual and culinary arts. It is a year-long achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievements among high school students. For over 40 years, the mission of ACT-SO has been to prepare, recognize and reward young people who exemplify scholastic and artistic excellence.
Mr. Keeys mostly spoke about the Premier Program. He is a pilot himself and loves flying. The program aims to prepare students pursuing a career in some aspect of aviation—pilot, mechanic, flight attendant, any career related to flying planes. It is open to all students, girls and boys alike. In fact, NAACP recently sponsored eight Collier County female students to attend the National Flight Academy in Pensacola.
To be able to attend this program, students need to write an essay and come from aviation programs at schools that offer them—Lely High School and Immokalee High School. NAACP keeps track of these students. Many, when they graduate from high school, have already earned their pilot’s license.
“A community is only as strong as its Public School system. Collier County is one of the strongest.”
The November 12th meeting of the Democratic Women of Marco Club will be held at Mackle Park Community Center at 5 PM. The speaker will be Susan Cone of “Mom’s Demand Action,” a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.