New home, bigger enrollment for Lakota alternative school

Arianna Hill, a Lakota senior, studies during a physical science class at the Lakota Career Education Academy on Thursday, Oct. 19 in West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Arianna Hill, a Lakota senior, studies during a physical science class at the Lakota Career Education Academy on Thursday, Oct. 19 in West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

An alternative way to advance toward graduation has more than doubled the number of Lakota students in a recently expanded program now housed in a new building.

The Lakota Career Readiness Academy is in it’s second year and has moved from Lakota West High School to what used to be the school system’s central office building on the campus of Lakota West Freshman School at 5030 Tylersville Road.

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Academy Administrator Nicole Isaacs said the move allowed more students, some of whom were lagging in their graduation class credits, to learn in a specifically designed environment that caters to the philosophy of an individualized instructional pace is the best pace for some teens.

The academy, which last school year enrolled 60 at Lakota West and now has 135, also serves as an alternative learning environment for students who may have other issues – academic or medical - that make matriculating toward graduation in a traditional school problematic.

“It’s a flexible learning environment for students who need something different,” said Isaacs during a pause in the school day, which includes morning and afternoon sessions students may choose from in the online learning that take place in smaller classrooms.

“Students can work at their pace, but also have the support of core teachers to help when needed. We also offer some additional resources like a school liaison, our own guidance counselor. They are still connected to Lakota but it’s a smaller environment,” said Isaacs.

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And that suits Arianna Hill just fine.

The Lakota senior was initially reluctant to sign up for the academy, which caters to students in grades 7-12, but shortly after taking part in the smaller classrooms and one-on-one learning, she grew to like this way of learning and has thrived.

One day a week, part of the classes include some career-based research or instruction – including occasional field trips to various work-place environments.

“I have to take this program so I can graduate on time. When Lakota offered this program I wanted to do a program that will help me be successful in life?” said Hill.

“If you need help there are teachers here ready to help you. I feel this program is better for people who may not be comfortable in a big school,” she said of Lakota West, which is one of the largest high schools in Ohio.

“Here you can be yourself and have fun but still be on task and still care about school,” Hill said, who added that academy students can still participate in Lakota West or East extra-curricular activities.

Issacs said students who may be interested in the academy should contact their local school counselor for more information as to whether they qualify for enrollment in the program.

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