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August 1, 2014, 5:52 am

Central High helps students excel

For senior Devin Cruz, coming to Central High wasn’t just about receiving the best education; it was also about continuing the family tradition. Cruz’s older brother also attended the school and after seeing his success professionally, he, too, wanted to attend Central.

“From the time I was kid, I knew I wanted to attend Central High,” Cruz said. “It’s such a prestigious school. The majority of the people who went to this school have accomplished great things. The bar for excellence is set so high here, that when students continue their education it’s not that big of an adjustment for them because we are already used to the workload. I’m looking forward to using what I learned here and applying it in college.”

Central High is regarded as one of the top public schools in the nation due to its high academic standards. Today, Central’s student population has reached 2,350 students and 110 teachers. There is a school president, similar to a principal, and three assistant principals.

The newest president is Timothy McKenna. Prior to being president at Central, McKenna was an elementary middle school teacher at Fairhill and a principal at Willard Elementary and Furness High.

The Central selection committee, which included faculty, students, parents and alumni, considered 13 candidates. McKenna replaces Dr. Sheldon Pavel who was president for the last 28 years.

“It’s an honor to be the next president,” McKenna said. “We want to continue to prepare our students for post secondary education. I don’t want to make major changes to the building, however I do want to enhance some areas to make the school better. One of the areas we want to improve is the technology of the building. We want to update what we have and integrate it into the classroom. I’m looking forward to this year and helping the students at Central succeed.”

Central is a special-admissions school. Students must apply to attend, and only those with high test scores and grades are accepted. Students are kept engaged in academics, athletics, and social experiences through extra-curricular activities. There are 28 sports and 80 different clubs at the school. Within the past decade, Central has consecutively made Adequate Yearly Progress and won 92 Public League Championships.

“There are so many activities that students here can participate in,” said senior Tiffany Whitner. “I play softball, but I’m also the vice president of a new physics club that was started with my friend. We started the club because we wanted to help tutor other students in physics. Physics is a hard subject and its something that many students struggle with, so we’re hoping to help those students with the club.”

Students in the arts program get a chance to hone their skills in various classes. Some of the classes include art history, graphic design, photography, printmaking, sculpture and Web design.

“We have a phenomenal arts program at Central,” said art department chair, Benjamin Walsh “We have one of the only working black and white rooms in the district. That aspect is phenomenal because the students get to be exposed to that kind of process, which is now kind of a dying art form to the kids these days. All of our students in the program are extremely talented and go on to do great things with their careers.”

Senior Clarence Anderson takes an AP art class at Central. He said Walsh has helped him with his skills over the years. Anderson has been drawing since he was seven years old.

“He has helped me in so many ways,” Anderson said. “It’s always good to have a teacher who is as hands on as he is and want to see you succeed. I’ve definitely progressed my skills by taking the art classes here and it will help me achieve my dream. I’m currently looking at different colleges to attend next year and I want my major to be architecture.”

Students who have taken classes in art in Central has gone on to college and majored in fashion design, animation, illustration, interior design, industrial design, Web design and photography. While senior Eden Laramee currently takes an AP art class at Central, she doesn’t want to major in art when she goes to college.

“I want to be a marine biologist,” Laramee said. “I take the art classes because it’s something I love to do, but I wouldn’t want to make my career out of it. I just want to continue to do it as my own personal hobby.

No matter if students want to follow their dreams in art or in another field, Central has helped all of us work hard and realize our dreams. Everybody here wants to succeed and contribute to the world in some way. We’ve just been given the platform early to do so.”