Two Wake magnet schools win national awards

Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh was named the nation’s second-best magnet school on Saturday and Wendell Elementary School in eastern Wake was named the top elementary magnet school in the country.

Both Wake County elementary schools received accolades from Magnet Schools of America, a group representing more than 2,000 magnet schools that is holding its national conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. The awards capped several days during which Wake’s magnet school program has been spotlighted as more than 1,100 educators from around the country came to Raleigh to see what they could learn from North Carolina’s largest school system.

Since 1982, Wake has used the magnet program to diversify school enrollments, fill under-enrolled schools and provide additional educational opportunities. Magnet schools offer programs typically not found at regular schools, such as advanced arts and foreign language courses.

Twenty-three Wake magnet schools received awards this year from Magnet Schools of America, with Brentwood and Wendell among five Wake schools in the running to receive the organization’s highest honors. Last year, Combs Elementary School in Raleigh won the Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which goes to the nation’s top magnet school.

Brentwood Elementary School won the Donald Waldrip Award, named after Magnet School of America’s first executive director. It’s the group’s second-highest national honor.

Brentwood offers an engineering magnet theme, bringing together science, technology, engineering and math – also called STEM – in ways that try to make learning fun. Students work together to solve real-world problems. The school partners with The Engineering Place at N.C. State University.

Wendell Elementary School received the organization’s Elementary Magnet School of Merit Award, given to the nation’s top elementary magnet school.

Wendell offers the creative arts and science magnet theme, which works to integrate arts and science in all classes.

Hui: 919-829-4534; Twitter: @nckhui