|Benson's new principal, Carol Campbell, arrives at the school at an important time.
The district’s premier four-year, career-technical education focus school, Benson will get smaller as part of the school district's High School System Design effort; it expects 873 students in 2011-12, down from 1,028 this year. The school remains in high demand: This year, 360 students applied for 240 freshmen spots this fall.
The school is retaining its Communications Technology, Industrial Engineering and Health Sciences academies but is cutting several smaller majors, including Pharmacy Assistant and Computer Technology, because of enrollment changes and budget cuts.
Achievement at Benson is up, with 70 percent of students meeting or exceeding math benchmarks this year, a nearly 19 percent year-over-year gain. Eighty-five percent of Benson students met or exceeded reading benchmarks, a nearly 27 percent gain over last year, aided in part by moving testing districtwide from 10th to 11th grade.
The school's graduation rate is 77.1 percent, well above the district average, and Benson has the district’s highest graduation rate for African-American students: 72.5 percent. The Benson student body is roughly a quarter each African-American, white, Latino and Asian-American.
Benson graduates this year included Blaise Clarke, a valedictorian who earned a perfect score on the SAT, and Kiera Brinkley, who has significant physical disabilities drew cheers at graduation by walking across the stage using prostheses. Kiera has a full-ride scholarship in dance at the Juilliard School in New York City.
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