HAMPSTEAD — Hampstead Academy administrators will be heading to the Department of Education Thursday requesting permission to add grades nine through 12 to the school.
Currently, the private school houses students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. The school received conditional approval for the project from the Planning Board on April 1.
Hampstead Academy Head of School Liane Odom said the increase in grades will not bring structural changes to the current building and the Advanced Placement-focused curriculum will bring in more teachers to educate the students.
Odom said the school already has enough rooms for subject areas like math, science, social studies, language arts, and homerooms to accommodate the increase in grades should they be added.
According to Odom, the school currently has 11 teachers and 30 students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through six. She said the high school grades would not begin for about three years, when the current sixth graders would be set to enter high school.
"We want to keep middle school students, we think they're fabulous," Odom said noting students would stay for high school because they seek the academic one-on-one approach. "The best way to keep them is have a high school program that's just as fabulous as the elementary programs."
With the addition of the four high school grades, Odom said the school will have one class per grade with 12 to 15 students per grade to keep the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics focused curriculum.
Ken Brown of Hampstead transferred his son Seth, 13, to the seventh grade at the school two weeks ago to give him a better student-to-teacher ratio and meet Seth's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder accommodations.
Brown said if the school added the higher grades he would "without a second thought" keep Seth there.
Brown said Seth was not doing well at Hampstead Middle School, where he was bullied, cyber-bullied, and experienced anti-Semitic threats. But now, Brown said Seth is "waking up looking forward to going to school."
According to Brown, it's important to have a low teacher-to-student ratio because of the distractions large classrooms bring.
Similar to Brown, Jay Robinson of Hampstead wants his youngest son to receive more one-on-one attention, which is why he's sending 13-year-old Hayden to Hampstead Academy for his eighth-grade year.
Robinson said it would be an easier transition for his son if Hampstead Academy added a high school because he would have already been acclimated there.
"He would be better in a smaller environment than a bigger environment," Robinson said of his son.
If the school is on board, Robinson said he is also interested in starting a wrestling team there.
Hampstead resident Melissa Denton has children who attend the public schools, but said she attended the Planning Board meeting for her mother who lives across the street from the school to learn about the plan.
Denton said she was nervous about the increase in grades, however she doesn't have any concerns after learning the school would not be adding lights and would not allow students to drive.
Odom too said there will not be any assigned parking for the high school students.
Denton said her mother was also concerned about the additional grades bringing increased traffic, due to events happening outside of the normal school hours. However, her mother no longer has concerns due to the school's plan.