In January, 130 eighth-graders took an entrance exam to get into the academy, which Haverhill High began this school year to keep the city's top students from going to private high schools. Students in the academy have a rigorous course of study, including honors classes, Latin, Greek and advanced European history.
Last week 160 students took the exam, high school officials said. That is a 23 percent increase in applicants. The academy will maintain the same number of students in the 2007-2008 year as this year - about 55 - so more students are competing for the same number of spots.
Students in the academy attend most core curriculum classes together, with the exception of art, music, gym and the lunch period - where they mingle with the rest of the Haverhill High student population.
"I was nervous that we'd be segregated from the rest of the school," said Kailey Burke, 14, a member of the academy. "I'm happy that we get to be with the other students."
Latin teacher Paul White, one of the architects of the academy as well as one of its advisers, said the school created the academy as an alternative to private schools like Central Catholic High in Lawrence where families pay thousands of dollars a year in tuition.
"It's a way for students to save money they can spend on college," White said.
Haverhill High Principal Bernard Nangle said school leaders are happy with interest shown by Haverhill eighth-graders and their parents.
"We hope our academy will bring in kids who would have gone to the other schools," Nangle said. "We want to keep our own kids from going elsewhere."
Haverhill High has a total of 2,100 students. The freshman class has 587 students, including those in the academy.
White said academy teachers immediately arrange after-school tutoring for Academy students who are falling behind. Students must maintain no less than a C average in order to return to the academy the next year.
Students applying to the academy take a four-hour test, similar to what they would face trying to get into a private high school. Academy students will have their attendance in the special section of the school noted on their high school transcripts and their diplomas.