Charlton Heston Academy Open House Fills School With Families

There was barely an empty space in the cafeteria of the Charlton Heston Academy (CHA) as parents, students, and faculty gathered for the 1st open house and orientation for the Academy. Superintendent David Patterson opened the meeting with a brief discussion on the Student Handbook and added additional emphasis on the section about bullying. Patterson noted that students need to understand what bullying is before making accusations and if bullying truly exists then they should immediately report the situation to staff for appropriate action. Patterson further stated that “this is the student’s school. We need to empower the kids”. This was part of his description of the academic focus the staff at the academy will have and how the individual assessments of each student, along with the parent’s input, will help mold the school to meet the student’s needs. “We need to hear from parents on their child’s needs. Parents are the best advocates for their children” stated Patterson.

Patterson introduced the Chief Academic Officer, Jason Sarsfield. Sarsfield first congratulated the families noting “you’re making a very important and bold decision. You’re putting your trust in us and we won’t let you down”. Sarsfield explained that the staff at CHA will provide the students with three things…”Love, Values, and a World Class Education”.

Sarsfield went on to explain that the K-8 started out with one class per grade but due to climbing enrollment the Kindergarten and 1st grade will be a much larger multi-grade classroom in which resources will be shared and others split based on the level of academic need each student requires. Sarsfield concluded by explaining that the students, parents, faculty, and community members are “making history” with the opening of CHA.

Patterson went on to note that “we’ve been told we should not do extended days and year round but we did it anyways because students need to be prepared”. He went on to explain that the students will not face retention loss from a summer break and will have an opportunity to achieve more in their academics than with a shorter school year. Furthermore Patterson explained the role of the teachers and their commitment to the academic success of the teachers noting the administrations responsibility to make that possible. “Our teachers are our biggest asset. We have to support them”.

Patterson also noted that there has been a lot of feedback on extracurricular activities. He pointed out that the Academy “needs the first month to evaluate academics”. Once they are on track they will begin investigating and implementing activities that are practical and reasonable for the community’s desire and needs.

Patterson discussed the condition of the existing playground noting that he made an “executive decision to not use the playground. It is not safe and should have been closed 20 years ago”. The intention is to remove the old equipment, scrape back the sand, and add topsoil and seed. Once complete the academy will start looking for ways to add playground equipment. Due to the efforts of the CHA Board the school has raised nearly $80,000 in donations that can help with the construction of a new playground area.

A representative from the Roscommon County Transit Authority was on hand to take questions. It was noted that the RCTA purchased two additional busses in anticipation of a community need for transportation to and from the Academy. They requested that families notify the RCTA of their intentions to use the public transportation. Patterson noted that every student will ride for only 75 cents. If the student(s) live outside of the 75 cent fare range then the Academy will “pick up 50% of the cost” to keep it at 75 cents.

Jim Perialas and Steve Morris were also on hand to introduce themselves as representatives of the Boy Scout leaders for Troop 944. They were there to encourage boys to sign up for the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

When asked what she thought of the current status of the school CHA Board President Jennifer Jarosz stated through tear filled eyes “three years ago we stood right here and said we were going to open a charter school and we have done just that”.

Reprinted with permission – Roscommon County Weekly August 24, 2012 issue