Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tom Luna visits local school

From the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, Idaho.

Tom Luna visits local school
By John Bulger

"POCATELLO — Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna got to see the progress of one of his offspring Wednesday when he visited a local charter school.

No, Luna does not have a relative enrolled at the Academy at Roosevelt Center. Rather, Luna toured the school that bases its curriculum and philosophy on the Liberty Charter School in Nampa, which Luna helped establish during his seven years on the Nampa School Board.

The central credo of the schools is that a safe harbor, coupled with highly challenging content, equates to accelerated learning. Luna’s message was for the kids to take every benefit the school offers.

“There are thousands of students just like you all around the state of Idaho that are on waiting lists to go to a school like you are going to,” he said. “You are very privileged to be one of the students in Idaho that can attend a charter school.”

Luna said that schools such as the Academy are a critical component for the future of education by providing additional choices.

“Magnet schools and professional/technical opportunities, dual enrollment, alternative schools — all of those different choices are necessary if we’re going to make sure every child graduates, and not only graduates, but when they graduate from high school and go onto college or into the workforce ..., they do not need remediation,” he said.

Luna’s visit was to kick off the Academy’s newly established foundation to ensure the school’s future, including the expansion into a building that will accommodate a high school program.

“One of the things we don’t want to have happen is to lose out on human resources or program resources because of budget cuts. When a community rallies around and supports an organization like this, it keeps our doors open,” said Jonathan Braack, the academy’s assistant administrator.

The Academy has looked into purchasing the old Bonneville Elementary School at 320 N. Eighth Ave., but has also expressed interest in moving into the Grace Lutheran School facility if that school’s plans to occupy the vacant Ballard Medical facility can be wrangled. Last week, the City Council denied Grace Lutheran a conditional use permit in order to facilitate the purchase of the site.

“We’re just in a holding pattern,” Braack said, “just seeing what all works out.”

During his tour of the classrooms prior to a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a science class interrupted its studies to give Luna its pledge, complete with accompanying pantomime.

“Those who take responsibility for their actions are the real winners in life,” the student recited. “It’s never too late or too early to begin. Time plays no favorites and will pass by whether you act or not.”

Luna applauded.

“I heard what you said in your pledge and ... I believe every bit of that,” he told the students. “What you’ve talked about is exactly what’s happened in my life.”"

"Idaho’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Luna fields questions Wednesday from students at the Academy at Roosevelt Center Charter School in Pocatello."

~Niccole B.

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