BARRINGTON — As the community considers its school choice options, local eighth-graders and parents can find out more about area high schools beginning next week.
To assist families, a high school fair and parent information night is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at Barrington Middle School.
Becausee Barrington does not have a high school, the community sends most of its students to Dover High School, and some to Coe-Brown Northwood Academy in Northwood and Oyster River High in Durham, said Guidance Counselor Tom Waldron.
“Our contract is up this year,” Waldron said, adding the district is now negotiating a new contract.
“For Barrington, we’re doing everything quicker than other years,” Waldron said. The process typically begins in January.
Waldron said Superintendent Gail Kushner plans to speak to students and parents about the ongoing contract efforts during the 30-minute information session Oct. 15, before participants can take part in the high school fair from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Waldron said there are 99 eighth-grade students at the Barrington Middle School, which does not account for up to 10 home-school students in Barrington. He said all those students can be involved.
“Everything’s optional,” Waldron said. “We encourage all eighth-graders to participate.”
During the fair, Waldron said students and parents can learn more about their options at area public schools, including Dover High, Oyster River, Somersworth High, as well as Coe-Brown, which is a hybrid public-private school.
“Right now, they split up in different directions,” Waldron said.Additionally, he said there will also be representatives from private schools, including Berwick Academy in Maine and Cocheco Arts & Technology Academy (CATA), St. Thomas Aquinas and Portsmouth Christian Academy — which are all in Dover.
Waldron said it’s important for students and parents to identify their priorities. He said Dover has good opportunities for sports, the CTC offers work skills and CATA targets the arts or technology.
Waldron said transportation options or class size are important to some parents and student. He said Dover High is the largest school in the mix, while Coe Brown and Oyster River are medium-sized.
A week later, on Oct. 22, local eighth-graders can tour Dover High School from 9 to 10 a.m.
Because Barrington is under contract with Dover, Waldron said the district offers transportation to the tours. During the tour, he said, Dover High student ambassadors and teachers will offer a glimpse of school life there.
“As far as getting ready for high school, it’s excellent,” Waldron said, adding many students are impressed with Dover High School’s Regional Career Technical Center (CTC).
Also, student ambassadors from Dover will visit Barrington Middle School in the future to provide more information or to answer any questions.Kim Stephens, dean of students at Dover High, said there are about 150 upperclassmen who serve as student ambassadors and can relate to incoming freshmen by sharing their experiences.
“Really, the bulk of the tour is with them,” Stephens said, adding each group is guided by three ambassadors who come from all areas in the school — from advanced placement to the CTC studies.
“They are the guides who run the narrative,” Stephens said, New students learn a great deal about school life from the ambassadors, Stephens said.
Stephens said Dover High is offering tours to help inform potential students and transfer students from communities, including Barrington, Nottingham and around the city, throughout October.
Because Dover is the official sending school for Barrington students, families must take action if they want to choose an alternate high school. If not, students will be enrolled in Dover, according to the Middle School’s website.
Waldron said other schools have open houses or programs — where students can shadow their older counterparts — to learn more details.
“The high schools have been very flexible,” Waldron said, adding he’s “already looking at a list a shadow dates starting next week.”Waldron recommends students and parents keep abreast of events, schedules and information posted on the guidance website at https://sites.google.com/site/barringtonguidance/home.