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Duval County students head back to school

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Updated: 8/19/2013 9:03 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Summer vacation is officially over for students in Duval County.  And as students made their way back to school, they may have noticed a few classes added to their schedules.

"It's the first year it's being offered at this high school so it's great actually," said Raines High School student Alex Gardner.

Gardner, also known as "Mr. Raines" to his classmates, is a leader in school.

This year he was excited to be one of many students getting a chance to take a brand new elective offered -- culinary arts.

"Over the last 10 years we've seen a dramatic decrease in the number of elective classes offered," said Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

Vitti says he was tired of seeing his students miss out on electives that could be career-changers.

"What we've done this year is changed the master schedule so students, at the minimum, will have two elective classes," said Vitti

Vitti says previously, magnet schools only offered these kind of electives, but he says data shows electives increase a student's productivity in school.

"They are more likely to come to school, be engaged, find it relevant and gain a post-secondary skill and exposure to going to college." said Vitti.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown was also at Raines High, going into each classroom with Vitti to see how the elective classes were going.

"He and I work well together and do everything we can to make sure that we have the best school system, not only in the state of Florida but in the country," said Brown.

Vitti tells Action News the added electives are another reason why school is an extra half-hour long this year.

Raines High School principals say students can still take electives offered in previous years, such as ROTC, music, dance, chorus and gym.

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