The Northwest school district’s Steele Accelerated High School isn’t like other high schools – inside the district and across the north Texas region.
Its small enrollment and emphasis on giving students an early start on earning college credit, Steele appeals to students who have a good idea of what they want to do in the future and are eager to get that future started.
And now, Northwest is letting students from outside of the district get in on the Steele experience. Through July 24, Steele is accepting online applications. Each application is reviewed to determine if the campus is a good fit for meeting the student’s future goals.
Enrollment is capped at 250 and is projected to be about 150 for the 2014-15 school year, Steele Principal Robin Ellis said.
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"Steele AHS was designed to be a small, personalized campus for students whose focus is academics," Ellis said.
As interest in the campus continues to increase, the enrollment is likely to reach 250 in a few years. A new wing that could open up space for up to 400 total students is a likely addition in the near future.
Steele, located in Roanoke, has accepted students from outside of Northwest since the 2013-14 school year. "Last year, we allowed 10 students to enroll from outside our district," Ellis said. "Most applicants are from neighboring districts, but we have had applicants from as far away as Paradise and Azle."
Students from inside the district receive precedence in the admission process. "All middle and high school students’ parents have had the opportunity to attend information sessions and open houses," Ellis said. "We still have a few spaces open for next year, and if last year was any indication, those will fill up quickly."
The Collegiate Academy at Steele, which represents partnerships with the University of North Texas and North Central Texas College, lets students begin college classes as early as their ninth-grade year. By the time they graduate, they could have up to 60 hours of college credit at about a fourth of the cost of a traditional college path, Ellis said.
Mikalyla Humphrey, who will be a sophomore at Steele in the fall, said students’ shared focus on academic goals creates a positive, supportive atmosphere. "I really like how small Steele is," Humphrey said. "Everybody knows everybody, and there’s none of the drama that you see at a traditional high school because we are all focused on our future goals."
Steele doesn’t just give students a head start to college. It can also kick start their career plans. The school’s Academy of Cosmetology will give students the chance to graduate from high school with a full cosmetology license and industry experience. "I’m excited that I will have my license when I graduate and be able to begin my career at age 18," said Keaton Jones, a student in the Cosmetology Academy.
Jones also plans to have an esthetician license by age 19 and someday own a salon. Many of the Cosmetology Academy students also are enrolled in college classes, Ellis said.
About a quarter of Steele students, including recent alumnus Grant Hase, are able to finish high school a year early with significant college credit. Hase arrived at Steele after one year in a traditional high school.
"I was able to graduate high school in only three years, and because of the college coursework I was able to take at Steele, I will graduate from Texas A&M in only two years," Hase said.