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GMC Prep cadets march back to class for new year

GMC Prep cadets march back to class for new year Jonathan Jackson The Union-Recorder Five hundred cadets lined up for the first formation of the school year Friday morning at 7:45 at Georgia Military College Preparatory School. Parents, grandparents, teachers and siblings observed the morning ritual that will become common over the coming year. In all, around 200 people witnessed formation Friday, GMC Prep Principal Col. John Thornton said. “We had a tremendous crowd. It was packed,” Thornton said. “I would welcome people worried about the youth of today to see our 500 during formation.” Thornton said for a second year, GMC Prep has capped its enrollment and kept the student-to-teacher ratio low. “The first day is always exciting,” Thornton said, “not just for the kids, but for the teachers as well.” GMC Prep is a grade six through 12 public but independent school. On campus Friday, new sixth-grade students were led on tours by staff members, familiarizing them with what some hope will be the start of the next seven years at GMC Prep. The “Seven-Year Club” consists of students who begin attending in sixth grade and eventually graduate from the school. “We invited parents to visit their child’s class this morning following formation,” Thornton said. “We encourage parents to visit throughout the day. We like to show parents what their child does at school.” Thornton said the community will soon see dramatic changes on the campus when construction of the new prep school begins. The former barracks have been cleared and will be demolished just after Labor Day. To kick off alumni week the school will hold a ribbon cutting Oct. 17 for the construction of the new prep school. “For the first time ever, grades six through 12 will be under one roof,” Thornton said. The state-of-the-art, 78,000 square foot facility is expected to be ready by 2010. As for this year, Thornton is excited about new initiatives to increase the Advanced Placement classes at the high school, new elective offerings put in place — including SAT and ACT test preparation classes, as well as the school’s high joint-enrollment rate. “Over half of our seniors are joint-enrolled,” Thornton said. “That means the first two classes of their day are actual college classes that they are getting credit for. Our mission is not to produce soldiers — it’s not only to produce good citizens. Our goal is to have a child ready for a college atmosphere from day one,” Thornton said. “I have yet to meet a former student that says they regret coming to school here.” GMC follows the Georgia performance standards, albeit at a faster rate than some and in what Thornton calls a safe and secure environment with caring and knowledgeable staff. Cadets will see a number of events in the coming weeks including band performances, football games and pep rallies and in the midst, the school still plans to get everyone settled into a structured routine. “We’re excited to be back,” Thornton said, “not just to prepare the class of 2009, but to welcome the class of 2015.”