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Port City's first all-girls school in the works

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WILMINGTON -- Come 2015, some students in one coastal county could have a new learning environment.

On Thursday, Judy Girard, the former HGTV and Food Network president who lives in Wilmington along with Georgia Miller, the wife of UNC Wilmington's chancellor, announced they want to bring an all-girls school to Wilmington.

"There's never been an educational environment that is specifically designed to build confidence in young women, to have a voice, to have a choice, to get ready for college, and a girls' environment does that," said Girard.

On Thursday, in front of an audience full of hundreds of community and business leaders, Girard and Miller announced the formation of the Young Women Leading Foundation and its mission to open the school which will serve underprivileged youth.

"This is a organization that will involve the families as well as the young women," said Miller, the chair of the foundation.

Miller said they're following a school model started by the Young Women's Leadership Network in New York in 1996.

This network now has several affiliate schools throughout the country and Wilmington is next in line.

"We will be taking our young women on field trips, spending weekends on campuses, hopefully traveling to some of our major cities and having cultural experiences," said Miller. "Doing some of those things perhaps they wouldn't be able to do with their family."

Officials said the women who go to these schools have a far better chance of making it to a college. They said 98 percent of the students go on to pursue higher education.

"It has been 20 years proven that if we invest this kind of attention, education and support system for these young women that are economically disadvantaged, that we can change their lives," said Miller.

She said they would like to open in the fall of 2015 and introduce new grades each year.

They said right now they're working on their public charter school application and finding a facility that could accommodate more than 500 students.

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