As Lee County Acceleration Academies (LCAA) prepares to celebrate its first group of graduates, The Fort Myers New-Press featured the school in an article about serving students who are looking for a non-traditional path to college, military service and well-paying jobs.
Students interviewed for the article said they had come to LCAA for reasons including losing ground to the Covid pandemic and the devastation of Hurricane Ian, a desire for a more flexible schedule that doesn’t require them to spend long days sitting in a desk, and a need for the kind of one-on-one attention traditional schools are hard-pressed to provide.
“Here they actually help you. Like sit down with you and talk with you about your classes and everything. It’s easier for me — if I need help, they’re there,” said Cindy Gonzalezz, who dropped out of Bonita Springs High as a senior but wanted to get her dreams of becoming a veterinarian back on track.
Reporter Nikki Ross noted that the school opened in January, works in partnership with the Lee County School District and is “completely free.” She quoted LCAA Director Shelley Markgraf as saying she and her team of educators are trying to give young learners a second chance.
“It just shocks me that there’s so many kids that fell through the cracks and didn’t graduate,” Markgraf said. “Every student here has a different story. And not one of their stories is the same and not one of their stories when they come in is predictable. But they’re all here for a reason. Somehow, they fell through the cracks. Our goal is we want to see them graduate.”
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Photos by Nikki Ross