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New charter school with a goal on career technical skills to open in Idaho Falls

DANIEL V. RAMIREZ | | Feb 27, 2024 

Elevate Academy under construction

The new charter school Elevate Academy is under construction at 1873 North Walton Avenue.

A new charter school will open for the 2024-24 school year, focusing on career and technical skills to have students job-ready in trades.

Elevate Academy was started in 2019 in Caldwell. It is different from traditional career and technical schools in that it runs from sixth through 12th grade. It will host a parent information night at 6 p.m. today (Feb. 28) in the Rocky Mountain Middle School auditorium, 3443 N. Ammon Road.

The charter school is a public school with a Bonneville Joint School District 93 charter, meaning no tuition is required.

“Charter schools mean different things in different states, a lot of charter schools are private schools where you pay a tuition. That’s not the case in Idaho,” Charter Administrator Logan Waetje said.

However, Waetje said, due to Elevate Academy’s charter-school status, it has to host a lottery for admission. The school will have enrollment caps meaning only a few spots are available.

“Since District 93 authorized our charter, which means they will evaluate our charter every year, District 93 students will have first access to being drawn,” Waetje said.

Waetje has years of experience as an Idaho Falls School District 91 administrator. He has worked as the dean of students at Compass Academy, District 91’s director of digital learning and principal at D91 Online Academy.

He said students outside District 93 will be chosen if spots are still available after being filled by District 93 students.

Enrollment for the drawings closes April 3, and drawings will be held April 10.

The trades the school will focus on are construction, welding, machining, culinary arts, public safety, medical arts, business and cybersecurity. The education the students receive will be integrated into the types of trades that are offered.

Charter Administrator Shannon Taylor said students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades will have opportunities to explore all those trades during the school year.

“By the time you get to ninth and 10th grade, you will get to narrow it down to your top four and spend a little longer in there, about 10 weeks per trade,” Taylor said.

She said when students are juniors and seniors, they can choose two to focus on for the rest of those years.

To ensure students meet the requirements in their education to graduate in Idaho while also focusing on learning trade skills, Elevate Academy integrates the education aspect with the type of trade. Waetje gave an example of a dog house that students in Nampa built.

According to Waetje, the students were taught the necessary math skills to construct the dog house accurately. Furthermore, they composed essays on the techniques they employed to build the dog house and why it was the best quality they could produce. The scientific aspect of this project aided the students in understanding forestry, and they learned the history of pets.

“Over the course of a year, a student will get the same amount of standards taught as they would at any school, but they’re doing it through a different career technical education programs,” Waetje said.

New charter school with a goal on career technical skills to open in Idaho Falls | Local News |

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