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Canyon County charter school puts priority on planning for the next steps of life

Elevate Academy serves 6th-12th graders and is a career-technical charter school in Caldwell.

CALDWELL, Idaho — High school is such an important time in a teenager’s life, from the learning and growing aspect right down to having a fun social life. For high school seniors, the next step is always a scary thought.

Elevate Academy senior Aalekxiz Ramirez said, "I think it's better to do things hands-on because you're actually doing it before you go to the real world. It gives you an excitement to go out into the real world and go to the actual field."

Hands-on learning -- that’s the approach Elevate Academy takes when shaping the next generation of young professionals.

Elevate Academy’s Charter Administrator, C.J. Watson said, "Really what it comes down to is being next-step ready. Our ultimate goal is to get students who weren't doing or struggling in a traditional environment, but who strive when they were doing hands on learning, hands on experiences and they were connected to trades."

For many students, it can feel like a traditional high school education is the only option for them.

“At regular high school you just go into class and you're do whatever you're told and regurgitate it back," said Hector Bustamante, an Elevate Academy student.

Elevate Academy takes a different approach to education. The academy offers relevant and interest-based learning experiences in the areas of culinary arts, construction, welding, criminal justice, medical arts and so many others.

“Often times in traditional school kids are lost, they are not sure what they are going to do. So, our purpose is to make sure that they are ready to go to work really even before they graduate," said Brett Williams, Elevate's Career Placement Coordinator.

To help alleviate the stress of the unknown after high school, Elevate Academy requires students to have a job or plans for higher education lined up before they graduate.

"If you don't have a plan, in our opinion, you're not ready to graduate even if you get the diploma. We are going to bring you back in August and we are going to work with you to make sure you have something lined up so that you're successful,” said Watson.

Elevate Academy has been working with students in Canyon County for more than three years.

"It's the best school here. There is no other school. I wouldn't go back to regular school…. Never,” Bustamante said.

This is the very first graduating class for Elevate, and these students feel ready to take on the world.

"Elevate is like a second home to me. I've learned a lot over the past years I've attended here. I've learned a lot about myself and how school really benefits you when you but effort into it. I'm excited to start my career and starting the life I dreamed of,” Ramirez said.

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