By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The Next Charter School is one step closer to opening day with an admission lottery held last week to choose the school’s inaugural class.
Thirty-seven Derry students and eight from outside the community applied to be part of the school’s first class of 30 students.
Charter schools are public institutions operating under a board of trustees. The schools offer a nontraditional education for students who may need an alternative choice for their high school years.
By law, a charter school must admit students by a system such as a lottery, not a typical selective admission process.
Justin Krieger and Joe Crawford, both middle school assistant principals in the Derry district, first presented the charter school plan to the public last year. Residents then cast ballots in a nonbinding vote and supported the plan.
More public information sessions followed, the plan went before the state Board of Education and was approved last June. The school will receive state and federal funding. Krieger and Crawford will serve as co-directors of the school.
Last week’s lottery event at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School brought out families and potential students hoping their number would be called.
The Next school will be located at Hood in the former Derry Early Education Program space.
The first 30 students picked will be the first Next class; they have until April 19 to confirm their attendance.
Derry town historian Richard Holmes presided over the lottery, tossing balls in a basket and cranking a handle to mix up the numbers. He then called out the numbers and added in a history lesson about the significance of the first charter school in town and where it would be located.
“I’m very pleased to be here,” Holmes said. “I am thrilled to be here in this moment in history.”
Holmes told families about the Hood family in Derry and their contributions to not only the dairy industry, but to buildings and other organizations, including the naming of the Hood school.
Having the Hood name associated with the first charter school was a good match.
“The Hood family believed in innovation,” he said.
As numbers were called out, students cheered and clapped if they got picked.
“This shows how much interest there is in this school,” one man called out.
David Michael Parks, 14, sat next to a close friend who already got his number called. When David’s number made the cut, he cheered.
“He’s ecstatic,” David’s grandmother Lorraine Peterson said. “He said he won’t sleep for a week.”
Krieger thanked everyone for taking an interest in the Next school.
“All of you have taken a tremendous show of courage,” he said. “All of you need to be commended for taking that leap of faith.”
Information on the Next Charter School and the students chosen to attend is on the school’s website at nextcharterschool.org.