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by Edmund Tsang

The new Alma Bryant High School, which opened last week, is offering many learning opportunities to its 1,300 students that were previously unavailable at the two schools that merged to form Alma Bryant -- Alba High School in Bayou La Batre and Grand Bay High School in Grand Bay. According to Ed Lathan, principal of Alma Bryant, a school, community, and business partnership allows the school to take advantage of technology to access learning resources beyond the high-school campus, and to implement attractive programs of learning that aim to help students complete schooling and be prepared for work or college.

"We have an organization called South Mobile County Educational Foundation. It is a group of business people and community leaders in the entire south end of the county. What they have done is that they have enabled us to get monies through grants that a local school cannot get." So far, Lathan said, over $1 million has been raised or committed to equip Alma Bryant with the latest technology, including two computers in every classroom.

"We are going to be able to access distance learning," Lathan said in an interview in late August. "If I have a kid who wants to take German or Russian or Chinese, we can set the student in the telecommunication room and bring the classroom from any number of universities in the state that offer these language programs."

The use of compressed video and high-speed data transmission technologies also allow for more active learning, Lathan said. "If our twelfth-grade government class has an issue in the state legislation that they are concerned about, because the state house has the same technology as we do, we can take our government class into the telecommunication room and have a one-on-one seminar with State Senator [Steve] Windom or Representative [Phil] Crigler or the Governor," Lathan explained.

The use of technology is just one way in which the school is trying to meet the curriculum needs of all Alma Bryant students, "from the honors programs to the vocational programs," Lathan added. [_Full_Story_]

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