The expected influx of an additional 500 students to a high school campus has the new Dothan High School principal thinking about new ways to do things.
The official beginning of the new Dothan High School is two months and a week away, but Principal Bill Singleton and other school officials have already established plans to beef up academic offerings and alleviate overcrowding concerns to make sure students don’t get lost – literally and figuratively – in the mass of people.
Singleton told Dothan Kiwanis Club members Wednesday he expects about 1,800 students on the new Dothan High campus when classes begin Aug. 20. While ninth graders will be moved off campus to the new Dothan Prep Academy, several hundred students who formerly attended the old Dothan High School will come onto the old Northview campus.
Grade-specific assistant principals, grade-specific counselors, parental involvement specialists and other personnel will be in place to deal with student needs and concerns while allowing teachers an opportunity to do what they were hired to do – teach, said Singleton.
He said he is not overly concerned about major disruptions associated with the combining of two schools.
“Dothan is a small town, and what I mean by that is these students already know each other. They go to church together. They spend time together,” Singleton said.
Students will also have additional academic options. A greater emphasis will be placed on Advanced Placement (AP) offerings, which allow students to receive college-level instruction and earn college credit while taking classes on the Dothan High campus. Singleton said the system’s dual enrollment offerings are successful, but added some students may have circumstances that don’t make dual enrollment feasible. The school’s increased emphasis on AP instruction is expected to cause AP enrollment to triple, he said.
Further, the new Dothan High will be one of a handful of schools in the state to offer AP Capstone, a directed program that teaches students how to do research. Successful completion of the Capstone course will count as an elective college credit.
There will be an additional emphasis on the arts, with three art teachers on campus and an AP Music Theory offering. Currently, only Spanish will be taught as a foreign language (the school will have four Spanish instructors) but Singleton said he would like to see foreign language offerings increase.
Additionally, club offerings will more than double and students will have regular time built into some school days to attend meetings and work on projects. Singleton said he did not want transportation issues to be a barrier for some students who want to participate. In addition to the traditional Honor Society and student government, other club offerings include gaming, fishing and paws (animal rescue).
Singleton also said he has addressed overcrowded hallways by assigning grade-specific halls. This minimizes times during the day when an entire hallway of students must meet each other while moving to a class in another hallway.
Finally, the presence of school resource officers, who work within the school, and at least school protection officer, who primarily works outside the school, will help create a better learning environment, he said.
“Our stated goal is we want Dothan City Schools to be the best school system in the nation. Working together, we will get there,” Singleton said.
Singleton graduated from Dothan High School, attended Wallace College and Troy University, and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in education and math and a Master of Science in math. He became the principal at Northview High School in June of 2018 after spending time at schools in northeast Alabama and Rome, Georgia.