Horizon Science Academy to expand this year


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

Youngstown

Horizon Science Academy will expand to eighth grade this school year and offer pre-algebra and honors courses.

The school at 3403 Southern Blvd., the former St. Dominic School building, opened last year for kindergartners through seventh-graders.

Preliminary data show the school earned a continuous-improvement rating on its state report card for the first year, said Joe Calinger, Cleveland representative for the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, the school’s sponsor. “That’s incredible for the first year,” Calinger said.

The school, which boasts a 16-students-to-1-teacher ratio, had about 200 students last year and set 340 as its target for the upcoming school year, which starts Aug. 22.

Hasan Akkaya, academy director, said seventh-grade English and math classes will be divided into two portions to offer an honors section.

Horizon is a public charter school, so tuition is covered by the state.

Billie Jo Johnson, instruction coordinator, said the school provides more language arts, math and science for students than the state requires.

The school’s curriculum also includes Spanish instruction in all grades. The school placed first in the Spanish spelling bee among other Horizon schools.

Akkaya said the emphasis on parental involvement also sets Horizon Academy apart from some other schools. The school conducts regular events for parents throughout the school year.

“Teachers do eight home visits” to students’ homes, Akkaya said.

The visits are to acquaint the parents and teachers with each other, he said.

“We believe the student and teacher and parent relationship is very important,” Akkaya said.

Jada Veneable, dean of students, said the school has many incentives to encourage students to do well, including a drawing for tickets to Cedar Point for students who passed their assessment tests and lunch trips for students who excel in their work.

Saturday and after-school instruction are part of the school’s design as well, aiding students who need additional help in a subject area.

For those who do well in their classes, Horizon has what it calls the Ivy League. It’s for students who maintain above a 3.0 grade-point average.

“We want to encourage students and prepare them to go to colleges like MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], Harvard and Stanford,” Akkaya said.

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