PRATTVILLE — Alabama’s first classical charter school is set to open in Prattville this August.
Ivy Classical Academy, a new public charter school in the Elmore County School District, will be located in a previously empty commercial space in the High Point Town Center when classes begin for the fall semester.
Classes will run from kindergarten through fifth grade, with an expected enrollment of 642 students. One grade level will be added annually after the school opens until all kindergarten through 12th grade levels are offered with an anticipated enrollment of about 1,300 students.
Ivy Classical Academy is one of 25 tuition-free K-12 schools that partner with Hillsdale College.
“There’s the demand for it. There’s no charter schools in the area. There’s no classical charter schools in Alabama at all," David Withun, Ivey Classical Academy’s Head of School, said in a recent interview with 1819 News. "The only classical schools that exist in the whole state are private schools. Most of them are pretty small private schools, so there’s a demand for the kind of education that we provide and the scale at which we provide it."
Withun said the school’s curriculum will “focus on what’s time-tested and what’s shown itself to be true.” Students will read books like "Aesop’s Fables," "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and "The Count of Monte Cristo."
“We have a contract with [the Elmore County Board of Education] that basically says over the next five years, we will outperform the local public schools on the state standardized tests,” Withun said. “The real metric of success is do we have students who are thoughtful and articulate and do we have students who are well-formed in terms of the decisions that they’re making and the lives that they’re living. The real measure of success is when we follow up with our students 20 years from now are they living happy, successful lives? That’s the real measure of success. Unfortunately, that’s the measure of success that’s often overlooked in education today because everybody wants short-term gains.”
He continued, “Classical education has been here this whole time taking the long view.”
“The long view is human nature is what it is. It doesn’t change and so we do the same thing that people have been doing to educate young people since Ancient Egypt 4,000 years ago which is we teach them great works of literature and great works of history and philosophy, and we ask important questions. We teach phonics in the early grades because it turns out that’s how the human mind also works. We do what works,” Withun said.
Ivy Classical Academy is currently accepting student applications for enrollment. Priority is given to students in Elmore County since the school is a public charter in the Elmore County School System.
“We give preference to students who are in Elmore County. Any student who lives in Alabama basically and whose parents are willing to drive them to the school is eligible to apply for the school. We’re accepting applications and will continue to accept applications on a continuing basis but we run a lottery on February 5. So, on February 5, students who’ve applied between now and February 5 basically will be in that lottery and will be randomly assigned a seat with preference given to students who are in Elmore County. Students who apply after February 5 will be added to the wait list in the order in which they apply,” Withun said. “I think people are excited in this area. There seems to be a lot of positive support for the school. Parents always like having other options.”
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