Kennedy High reconstruction going inside and out

Kaitlin Krossman, a teacher in the Creative Education Academy at John F. Kennedy High School, leads an art les-son on Friday, Sept. 16. Small classroom sizes allow teachers at the school to focus more on the needs of the students.

Kennedy High reconstruction going inside and out
September 22
09:15 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



A lot has changed at Kennedy High School since 2010. That year Carter High School, which serves Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ special needs students, was moved from their location on South Main Street to Kennedy on Highland Avenue.

At the same time, construction began to move the Career Center, an extension of the county’s high schools that offers advanced placement courses and other classes, to the campus as well. While the changes to the exterior of the school were major, the most drastic change at the school happened inside the classroom.

Once known as an alternative school for high school and middle school students with behavior issues, today Kennedy offers a unique opportunity that students can’t get anywhere else and is near the top of the county’s list of senior graduation rates.

In 2015 Kennedy saw the largest growth in graduation rates in the entire district. The past two school years, Kennedy has also exceeded growth expectations, and most of those improvements are directly related to the school’s new education system.

Thanks to a grant, Kennedy now operates under a new educational system that focuses on Career and Technical Education (CTE) that offers hands-on experiences and the opportunity to receive a technical certification to go along with their high school diploma.

Although students still have the same graduation requirements as other high schools across the state and county, incoming ninth graders at Kennedy have the opportunity to choose between four Career Academies: Creative Enterprises, Construction and Design, Health Science (Pharmacy Technician) or ProStart (Restaurant Management).

The ProStart academy created by the National Restaurant Association gives students a taste of what it’s like to work in the food industry, one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Students who choose the Creative Enterprises academy explore the creative arts, such as graphic design, photography and other visual media.

Construction and Design exposes students to a number of facets of the construction industry, while the Pharmacy Technician pathway prepares our future doctors and nurses to take on the ever-changing world of healthcare.

Senior Krista Gomez who is currently enrolled in the Health Science Academy said she decided to attend Kennedy because she wanted to get a head start on reaching her goal to become an anesthesiologist.

During an interview with The Chronicle last week, Gomez said now that she has taken courses in the field since she was a ninth grader, she is confident that she has the background knowledge to achieve her goal.

She also noted that the small class sizes was another reason she decided to attend Kennedy. Gomez mentioned the smaller class sizes allow teachers and students to really connect with each other.

“The teachers here have grown with us,” said Gomez “Teachers here get to know students on a personal level. They’re not only our teachers, but they are like our mentors as well.”

The school’s principal Keisha Gabriel said when she got the word that she would be leaving her position as assistant principal at East Forsyth earlier this school year, she was excited about joining the Kennedy Family.

“I got lucky to be here with this wonderful staff,” said Gabriel. “The faculty and staff here have worked tirelessly not only to change the image of the school, but to change the students as well.”

“Everything we do here at Kennedy is student centered. Our new focus as a district is on the core values and one of those values is to be more student centered, but Kennedy already has that here,” she continued. “Whatever works best for the students is what we do. The staff here will go out of their way to make sure students have what they need to be successful.”

Gabriel mentioned she identifies with the students at Kennedy because as a high school student in Atlanta, she was just like them.

“I was that at-risk child in every way you could imagine,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the support of teachers who took me under their wings and showing me different options, then I don’t know where I would’ve been.

“Working here at Kennedy is a rewarding experience. It’s the work I know all parents would want their children to experience. All schools in the district do their best to reach students, but Kennedy is a great place to be to see students grow.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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