Rochester, N.Y. – Charter schools have been around in Rochester for a decade, but none has ever graduated a class of seniors. That will change in June when Rochester Academy Charter School graduates its first class.
The school has 278 students in grades 7 through 12. It opened in 2008 and has a junior high campus on Genesee St. and a high school campus on Portland Ave. RACS has a focus on math and science, an extended school day and Saturday classes. Staff says there’s a culture of high expectations.
“I like that it’s small classes and you have individual time, one on one time with the teachers,” said senior Elif Bilgin.
“The small class sizes and the college prep I thought would help me get into college more than a regular high school,” said senior Danielle Johnson.
About 75 percent of the seniors who started at RACS their freshman year remain. All of the 25 students are on track to graduate and all have been accepted to college.
“I really think that being here with all of our college prep, with individual attention and strong family communication bond has really made that happen,” said Andrea Feeney, the school’s guidance counselor.
Critics of charter schools say they siphon off funding from regular public schools and cherry pick students. Supporters say they provide a vital choice. Rochester has six charter schools and three more are slated to open in the fall.
“I think it’s been a great experience I would have made different decisions if I stayed in a city school than if I came here,” said senior Stephanie Pollocks.