(COLORADO SPRINGS) – After just one semester, the Colorado Military Academy has more than 560 cadets enrolled with more parents signing their kids up.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the school and a lot of excitement in the community, especially in the military community to have a new choice option available here,” said retired Colonel Reggie Ash, executive director of the academy.
The Academy is a charter school, which focuses on a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, has a little extra discipline thrown into the mix.
With the majority of students coming from military backgrounds, the majority of teachers also come from the same backgrounds.
“Over 90 percent of our staff have a military affiliation, they’re a veteran like me, ” said Ash, “They’re a spouse of someone in the active duty or reserves or they grew up as a military brat as we say.”
Teachers say that shared experience helps them better connect with their students.
“They can trust me a little bit differently than someone who they feel they can’t relate to,” said Julie Vickers, another teacher at the academy.
“They obviously know what I’ve been through,” said Jeremy Catron, a cadet at the academy.
“It’s just really helpful to know that almost everyone in this school has gone through what I’ve gone through,” commented Tae Guerrero, another cadet.
The school, which already teaches kids in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade, has plans to add ninth grade classes next year. Ash said the school doesn’t plan to stop there.
“We’re going to continue to add a grade each year,” said Ash.
In four years, once they reach kindergarten through 12th grade, they hope to be at 1,100 students. The school also plans to expand to other towns in Colorado.
The school is also receiving heavy renovations, in part thanks to a $680,000 grant. More than $100,000 will go toward creating a new lab along with a media center, with another $40,000 to $50,000 will go to a new playground.
If the kids have to switch schools, teachers said they believe their students shouldn’t have any trouble in the classroom.
“So as long as they apply what they’re learning here, they’ll go in and have no issues going into other schools,” Crawford said.