With a crowd of educational leaders, teachers, advocates, and TV news crews in attendance, Clark County Acceleration Academies celebrated the opening of its third campus — a facility that will make a flexible, personalized high school experience available to young learners in Southeast Las Vegas.
Clark County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara addressed the audience to say that his district’s partnership with Acceleration Academies offers a vital option for students who have struggled in traditional settings. While he enjoyed his high school experience while growing up in Miami, for example, his brother graduated late “because maybe he didn’t have the right schedule, didn’t have the right teacher.”
“What that tells me is that we, as a school system, have to meet our kids where they are,” he said. “And this is what we’re doing here. And we can’t do it alone. All of you who are working, are helping mentoring, supporting our children, thank you.”
Television news crews were there to capture the event, and went on to feature the new academy on their newscasts and websites. Here’s a story from KSNV-TV, the NBC affiliate, and another from KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate.
“Since we opened our first academy in 2019, we’ve been able to serve over 1,000 students who have needed this personalized, one-to-one advocacy, one-to-one individualized coaching with their teachers, flexibility in schedule and year-round access to school in order to graduate,” CCAA Director Wendy Thompson said in her welcoming remarks.
“We’re really proud of this partnership that we’ve built,” added Acceleration Academies co-founder Mark Graves. “And we’re so excited to begin welcoming new students into this new, beautiful site … so that more and more students can take advantage of what I like to call their last best chance of becoming a high school graduate.”
Alizeah Jones is one of the students — known as “graduation candidates” to remind them of their goals — who have benefited from CCAA’s non-traditional approach. Alizeah has always been a strong student, but she told the crowd that traditional school was becoming a struggle due to her commitment to care for her younger siblings and her wish to accelerate the pace of her high school studies.
“School just wasn’t working out for me anymore, so we had to find an alternative,” she said. A guidance counselor at her old school told Alizeah and her family about CCAA. “It’s difficult to find a program that allows this type of flexibility, and it was really like a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Since enrolling at CCAA earlier this year, Alizeah has not only excelled at her coursework but has also participated in a new career and technical education (CTE) digital marketing program led by “Tech Queen” Dr. Duana Malone and her Nevada Help Desk. Recently, Alizeah became the first student in Nevada to earn certification as a Facebook community page manager.
“There are many, many amazing coaches” at CCAA, she said, citing in particular graduation candidate advocate Sandra Aguilar.
“Acceleration Academy has truly been an amazing organization to work with on my education and I’m so thankful for them and what they are doing here today to expand their facilities to many more students across the Las Vegas valley,” Alizeah concluded. “I cannot wait to see what everyone does with the new opportunities awaiting them.”
At the ceremony, educators were honored for their contributions to learners in Clark County and elsewhere. Dr. Jara and former Florida Education Commissioner Dr. Eric Smith received Keeper of the American Dream Awards, CCSD Adult Education Director Eric Gant received the Outstanding Partner Award, and Academy Director Wendy Thompson received the network’s inaugural Academic Leadership Award.