FEATURE — St. George Academy is celebrating the completion of its first academic year and the graduation of its inaugural class of seniors.
The tuition-free charter school in Washington City is dedicated to providing an academically focused college preparatory education for students in grades 8-12.
From legend to reality
St. George Academy derived its name from the ancient legend of Saint George, who defeated and slayed a dragon.
While there are many iterations of the mythology, according to the St. George Academy website, the school chose the name because it “symbolizes the ability of an educated mind to overcome the dangers of ignorance in our lives.”
The symbolism of the story is tightly woven into the tapestry of the school and is an apt description of the fortitude, courage and strength exhibited by the administration, faculty and students who came into an entirely new school and together created an environment of learning that exceeded initial expectations.
Among the most exciting accomplishments for the school is that they are able to graduate their first class of seniors.
Eighteen students will receive their diplomas in a ceremony held Friday evening, something which St. George Academy director David Jones called “an unexpected opportunity.”
“Our faculty had determined that they were capable of achieving accreditation in our first year of operation,” Jones said.
In Utah, all public schools granting high school credit are required by law to be accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools/AdvancED.
It is a rigorous process, said Nicole Hancock, the academy’s community outreach chair, adding that the school’s staff must demonstrate that it is capable of doing what they say they can accomplish.
The academy opened its doors for the 2017-18 academic year with a sound vision for how faculty and staff wanted to shape the educational process for students, and they found over the course of the year that they were able to go above and beyond what they had hoped to achieve.
“What has transpired over this year has been something that we could never have anticipated,” Hancock said, “and that is everything we hoped for and more than we could have possibly envisioned.”
Forged in fire
A large part of the academy’s success had to do with the willingness of the students – particularly the seniors – to enter into a new school environment that Hancock and Jones compared to a scientific laboratory.
“I think what’s so remarkable is these kids made this decision their senior year to step into an uncertainty,” Jones said. “To a degree, their success as students – because they have succeeded here and they are graduating – is a crucial part of making the academic program work. Their success is our proof of concept.”
St. George Academy was designed to offer a new type of learning environment for students who desire an opportunity to pursue a high school experience that allows them to do more than learn facts; they are encouraged to become active advocates of their own educational progression.
Graduating senior Erik Armour was grateful for the unique learning environment that enabled him to have more individualized instruction and control over his learning.
“You get to know your teachers a lot more and they get to know you,” Armour said.
In addition to personal attention, the small class sizes helped Armour develop relationships with all his peers, he said, instead of simply falling into a single clique like many other schools.
Armour also took the academy’s name and symbology to heart.
“We are the dragonslayers,” he said of his friends and peers.
On to the next dragon
Most of the graduating students are on track to attend university in the fall, Jones said, adding that both he and Hancock have confidence that St. George Academy has given the graduates the tools to not only pursue higher education and succeed there but also to succeed at life.
Hancock said she could certainly list the scholarships students have been awarded and acceptance into various universities, but there is more to the story.
“We are also going to be measuring our successes as an institution by how well we prepared the full individual for their next educational step,” she said.
Hancock also offered a message for the graduating seniors. She said:
Go forward with the confidence and drive and knowledge of the capabilities that you hold. I wish you every possible success in your academic career and your life.
Continuing to fight the good fight: about St. George Academy
St. George Academy is approved and overseen by the state charter school board and is compliant to all rules and regulations of the Utah State Office of Education. The academy offers the same core classes as every other high school, as well as its own unique list of course offerings.
Earning a diploma from St. George Academy requires more credits than asked for by state standards, as the academy’s academic program was built upon the standard admission requirements of America’s selective universities.
The academy’s faculty has built its own unique curricula that meets Utah Core standards, while permitting a broader exploration of the material based upon individual expertise.
Jones said he intends to increase enrollment for the 2018-19 academic year as well as add new courses for the students and new faculty to an already dynamic staff.
“New faculty means new brains,” Jones said, adding that new staff expands the academic scope of the academy.
St. George Academy is now enrolling students in grades 8-12 for the 2018-19 academic year. Learn more and submit your student’s application on the academy’s website.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- St. George Academy | Address: 380 E. 3090 South, Washington City | Telephone: 435-319-0105 | Website.
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