Confluence Connect 2019/2020
Literacy Library: The Believe Project Opens at Old North Academy
Old North Academy is proud to announce the opening of its Literacy Library. The library is made possible through The Believe Project, a program sponsored by St. Louis Black Authors. The non-profit organization is committed to improving early literacy for children of color. Old North Academy is the organization’s third, school-based library, but its first at a charter school.
“We believe in providing black children with literature that engages them as readers,” said Dr. Leslie Muhammad, principal of Old North Academy. “We also want to make sure they have access to books written about people who look like them and share their interests.”
The Literacy Library is a place for students in Pre-K through third grade to experience books through their own eyes. By providing literature that reflects and interests them, the library is equipped to better develop reading skills and creative expression.
“With third-grade reading being an educational marker, we want the Literacy Library to be another way to prepare children to be competent readers by the end of third grade,” said Dr. Muhammad. “We’ll be tracking progress and look forward to seeing how the library improves our students’ reading proficiency.”
Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Message From Our CEO
As we kick off the new semester and a new decade, I want to start by recognizing our accomplishments last year. First, we are excited to have concluded 2019 with improved test scores. As we move forward, our focus will be on improving our language and math proficiencies. Free resources at each of our schools, such as after-school tutoring and extended hours, can help students improve in these areas.
The Believe Project
Before winter break, we had the opportunity to partner with St. Louis Black Authors and The Believe Project to bring a Literacy Library to Old North Academy. The new library encourages a passion for reading in our young students. Stocking the library with age- and grade-level appropriate books will lay the foundation for confident and competent readers.
One of our most recent additions is a new athletic program at Confluence Preparatory Academy - Esports! Students are excited to try out and participate for the school’s newest team, coming this fall. Esports has become an extremely relevant and popular extracurricular activity for schools and students worldwide, providing another way for students to develop real-world skills through sports.
Finally, we are working diligently to expand our curriculum and coursework systemwide. As we do, we’re looking forward to a new decade of developing innovative learners and providing robust learning experiences for our students, staff and families.
Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver
Recognizing Those Who Make Confluence Great: Students
Myonnie McGinnist (9th)
Shamiya Cross (10th)
Neichelle Bethea (11th)
Gabe Gibert (12th)
Ralph Times (9th)
Gregrionna Peete (10th)
Clifton Vaughn (11th)
Symeon Coleman (12th)
Mar’Tayvion Payne (7th)
William Bryson (7th)
Old North Academy
Payton Byrth (6th)
South City Academy
Elizabeth Kamara (8th)
Recognizing Those Who Make Confluence Great: Teachers
Deniece Kemp - South City Academy
Years at Confluence: 10
Subjects taught: Preschool teacher assistant
“I worked as a special ed paraprofessional for the majority of my time here. When I first started working with one particular student, he wouldn’t talk. One of my favorite moments is when he finally felt safe enough with me to initiate conversations.”
Kyle Leckrone - Aspire Academy
Years at Confluence: 3
Subjects taught: Pre-K - 8th, PE & health
“The relationships I have built with students and staff are by far my favorite part of working here.”
Brandice Hammond - Old North Academy
Years at Confluence: 6
Subjects taught: Pre-K - 8th, STREAM
(science, technology, reading, engineering, art, math)
“I love the close knit family interactions with my coworkers, students and families.”
Katie Switzer - Grand Center Arts Academy
Years at Confluence: 1
Subjects taught: High school biology
“I love seeing students fall in love with the subject I fell in love with. One time, I had them channel their creativity to make model cells. Some made cakes, Sim videos, photo albums and songs!”
Eric Collins - Confluence Preparatory Academy
Years at Confluence: 4
Subjects taught: High school biomedical science and science courses
“I have so many things I enjoy about Confluence, but the best part is the amazing community of individuals who invest their heart and time into our students. The staff and faculty have become a part of my family.”
Jehmela Wilson - Aspire Academy
Years at Confluence - 2
Subjects taught: Pre-K - 8th, Dance
"One of my favorite memories with my students is preparing for the Black History Program. They worked extremely hard to memorize, perfect and execute their segment of the program. Seeing all five classes come together and work diligently was an exciting breakthrough."
A Magical Performance: By Old North Academy’s Students & Teachers
“The Wiz was a great opportunity for the kids to use literary-based concepts and to express themselves,” said Joe Baker, theater teacher at Old North Academy. “Students fully understood their roles as they memorized lines, learned stage directions and performed for an audience.”
The play, which was among the school’s largest theatrical undertakings, had its cast studying and rehearsing for four months before the December debut.
“Our students put a lot of effort and research into embracing their characters,” said Baker. “They learned 130 pages of script, and memorized their lines by the third and fourth weeks.”
The Wiz: Behind the Scenes
Joe Baker has worked for Old North Academy for two years as the school’s theater teacher. While he has led many plays and musicals, he points out that Old North Academy’s recent performance of The Wiz is one of the largest productions brought to life by his students.
Baker was not only impressed with the enormity of the production, but recognized how students became more comfortable expressing their creativity as time went on. The play encouraged creative expression through poetry, short scenes, directing and casting. It also welcomed students to draw from and incorporate their personal lives into the play’s final scene, making it Baker’s favorite.
In addition to facilitating the play, Baker worked tirelessly on the set design as well as the actors’ makeup and costumes, which he hand-made. After many rehearsals and a fantastic performance, Baker wanted to thank his students and staff for their tireless energy and hard work.
26 Pebbles: GCAA Students Use Acting to Address Gun Violence
In November 2019, Grand Center Arts Academy students produced a play called 26 Pebbles & Counting, which addressed the topic of gun violence. The play, which was directed by GCAA theater teacher Keith Williams, chronicled the 26 students and six teachers who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The docudrama not only shared stories of those directly impacted by gun violence, but also how those tragedies have had a broader impact, both locally and nationally. More than 300 people attended the three performances.
“It was probably the gutsiest, bravest and most honest stage production I have seen at the high school level,” said Shane Hopper, GCAA high school principal. “The play was relevant to our current time and place.”
GCAA Head of School, Ashley Olson, is proud of the students for using theater to advocate for issues that are important to them. Both she and Hopper appreciate how students were able to embrace such a difficult topic, while being honest and expressing their emotions.
“The emotional intelligence of the students who participated in this production was astounding,” Olson said. “As an art school, this play was an opportunity for us to highlight social injustices.”
Esports Coming to CPA: Titans Adding a New Team to the Sports Program
Confluence Preparatory Academy is proud to announce the launch of its inaugural esports program. Esports (also known as electronic sports) is an organized form of competitive video gaming, where players face off against each other and/or other teams. Like other sports, gaming can be a platform to develop problem-solving, critical communication and teamwork, all of which are skills necessary to succeed in school, work and relationships. Esports also encourages students to build strong community with one another as well as demonstrate leadership and commitment.
CPA’s esports program and lounge will open in early 2020. The school will host tryouts and teammates will have a coach, jerseys and a dedicated place to practice. CPA also is working to identify scholarships for athletes who are interested in pursuing a college undergraduate degree in game studies, computer science or esports.
CPA High School Students Making Headlines
CPA Students Headed to Harris Stowe
For the second year, CPA high school students are headed to Harris Stowe State University, where they can earn up to nine college credit hours while also enrolled at CPA. The 11 students participating in the “Grow Your Own” dual enrollment program are interested in pursuing a college degree in education.
CPA Senior Designs ‘Dream Big’ Mural
CPA senior Jean Simpson’s large-scale, colorful mural highlights the satisfaction of personal achievement. She hopes to inspire others with the idea that no matter the goal or project, they can dream big, lean on others and create something amazing. Check it out in the halls of CPA.
Spring 2020 at South City Academy
As we usher in a new decade so, too, are we introducing new opportunities for students at South City Academy. This semester, the school will focus on building relationships between teachers and students, in order to help teachers adjust to and address the individual needs of their students. Most importantly, strengthening student-teacher relationships will help South City Academy better support students academically, socially and emotionally.
“South City Academy is a nurturing and safe place for children to learn,” said Principal Pamela Davenport. “Every day, we are preparing them to succeed in school and in life.”
As a means to building relationships, students can expect more events and activities this semester. The annual STEAM Family Night is just one of many activities students look forward to. It’s also one of many ways parents can participate, volunteer and get involved with their student’s education.
Aspire Students Get New After-School Activities & Playground
A new year means a fresh start, and Aspire Academy has some exciting announcements for its students this spring! To support the school’s ongoing commitment to academic progress, Principal Laqweda Taylor is committed to giving students new and engaging learning experiences.
“We want to provide our students with memorable learning experiences,” said Taylor. “Expanding these opportunities for them directly correlates to improvements in academics and student success.”
After-School Programs - Soccer
Among these new opportunities is the expansion of the school’s after-school programs. Currently, students can participate in activities such as robotics, dance, basketball and Girls on the Run. Coming soon, Aspire will be adding a coed soccer program.
“Our soccer goals are up, and we are excited to teach our Champions soccer this spring through our P.E. program,” said Taylor. “My hope is to offer it in the fall as a competitive team.”
New Playground at Aspire
This year, students in Pre-K through first grade have a new place to play, explore, build social skills and simply be outside. The big blue playground, which is inspired by the school’s colors, replaced one that had been built in 2015 by Eagle Scouts Troop 780. While we’re excited to have the new jungle gym for our youngest students to climb on and slide down, Aspire Academy is looking further ahead and hoping to add green spaces for our older students, too. Research shows that children who have nature experiences are more creative, confident, and better understand basic science concepts.
Kicking off 2019/2020 School Year: A Message From Our CEO
To say I am excited about this school year would be a huge understatement! As you know, we’ve been hard at work writing new curriculum, expanding community partnerships, participating in professional development opportunities, and recruiting new students.
The network’s Strategic Plan continues to guide our work and our concentration remains on the initiatives outlined in that plan. Specifically...
- We will continue our work on curriculum and advanced course study, ensuring these values are embedded in our schools, classrooms, lessons and the way we interact with one another and our students at every level.
- We know that our students come to us with various levels of ability and need—academically, socially and emotionally—and meeting and developing them from where they are is vital. That being said, I have never before seen a network quite so prepared and dedicated to meeting those needs and the expectations of the families who entrust their children to us.
- We are also dedicated to ensuring that students have the ability to explore their interests and learn in real-world environments. Our curriculum, coursework and opportunities are expanding in these areas and I am excited to see where they lead!
- All the while, in the background, we are also working to ensure our network remains financially sound and continuing to work toward having learning spaces—at all levels—that prepare our students well for their futures.
Confluence Academies Affirms Commitment to Hispanic Education
Confluence is proud to educate children from across the diverse people of St. Louis and strives to be an inclusive community advocating for academic achievement for all students. We see the greatness of America in those who are here, and we see the greatness of America in those who have risen above injustice and enriched our society. At Confluence, we support the right of immigrant children, including undocumented immigrant children, to a free public education in the United States, as recognized by the United States Supreme Court in 1982.
In Missouri, the child population is 6.4 percent Hispanic/Latino. At Confluence, Hispanic/Latino children make up 15 percent of the student population. We believe it is important for our students to see themselves represented in the teacher workforce. Currently, nine staff members are Hispanic/Latino, and we continue to increase diversity in our teacher and staff ranks.
Confluence has fostered a strong partnership with Missouri Immigration and Refugee Advocates and the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action project to support students and families through programs related to STEM, parent engagement, leadership development, legal services and policy.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
In September, Confluence Academies joined citizens nationwide in recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month, an opportunity to share the historical and present contributions of Hispanic Americans. We recognize the significant contributions and considerable advances Hispanic and Latino Americans have made, and continue to make in our community, state, and world. Contributions in education, medicine, art, culture, public service, economics, politics, and human rights.
The Confluence Board of Directors in its continued effort to enhance equity and diversity, remains dedicated to providing resources and programming for Spanish-speaking communities, offers translation services and training for teachers, schools, and other school systems, continues recruitment efforts to attract diverse educators into the teaching profession; and continues to support safe schools and resources for undocumented students.
Keeping Students Safe Means Preparing for Inclement Weather
As the winter season approaches, Confluence is preparing to deal with winter weather and other issues commonly faced during the cold months. First, deciding whether to cancel school is the result of a careful process. Forecasts, temperatures, bus routes, and potential threats to student safety are all taken into account. If school is canceled, its start delayed or its dismissal schedule changed, both families and the local media will be notified. Confluence Academies will always alert you through various communications:
- A robo-call to all numbers on file
- An email notification
- Posted to social media sites
- Posted to ConfluenceAcademy.org
- Sent to local news stations
If your current phone number or email is not on file, or if you aren’t sure, feel free to check with the school’s administrative office.
In addition to inclement weather, winter months can lead to complications with attendance, participation and health. With cold weather comes increased cases of colds and flus. While school attendance is important, the best way to avoid spreading illness is by keeping sick children home when it makes sense to do so.
Cardinal’s Care Gives $30,000 to South City Academy
September 4, 2019, South City Academy was awarded $30,000 in crisis aid to supply families at South City Academy with food for the next few months. In the past, school volunteers were able to provide food for approximately 100 South City Academy families thanks to generous donors. Now, the school will be able to provide food to more than 200 families.
Special thanks to administrators, support staff, teachers, and resource office staff for helping bring this project to life.
Pictured: Adam Wainwright, South City Academy’s principal Pamela Davenport and office manager Jannelly Villegas, Andrew Miller.
A Big Debut: Trenay Caruthers Shares Her Muny Experience
What was it like being in Matilda at the Muny?
It was so much fun. It’s always a pleasure working with the equity members because I get to watch them and learn! I learned how to have fun, but also to be focused of the task at hand.
What do you like about GCAA?
I love that GCAA gave me the opportunity to do what I love (musical theater) and advance academically.
Is there a performer you admire?
I really admire Ariana Grande because she started in musical theater, then went to TV, and is now an amazing pop star. I feel like she has had an amazing career.
What’s next for you?
I have an upcoming, live duet performance with Kennedy Holmes, and I’ll be in the Coca/Black Rep production of “Four Little Girls.”
CPA Seniors Headed to Harris Stowe
The Grow Your Own Dual Enrollment Program kicks off with eight CPA seniors earning up to 11 college credit hours this school year. While attending CPA as senior scholars, students will be dually enrolled at Harris Stowe University. The program is designed for students interested in pursuing a college undergraduate degree in education. In addition to earning college credits, CPA high school students will be able to prepare for state certifications.
“One of our most important values is building community partnerships that strengthen our students and prepare them to lead productive and fulfilling lives, and at the same time strengthen our community,” said Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Academies.
Aspire Academy Principal Lacqweda Taylor: How to Help Your Student Succeed
Increasing Student Achievement
On behalf of the staff at Aspire Academy, I am excited to welcome you to the 2019-20 school year! I hope you were able to reconnect as a family and relax during the summer months. This school year we will continue our efforts in increasing student achievement, completing local and global service-learning projects, and partnering with community agencies to bring additional services to our students and families. For the second year, Aspire has a fully functioning site-based clinic, which opens every Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm.
Parents, we need your support in our efforts. We are always looking for volunteers and new members to represent our parent advisory committee. You can also support our efforts by promoting the importance of learning by doing the following:
- Ensuring your child attends school every day, arrives on time and is ready to learn.
- Making sure your child is dressed appropriately in school uniform.
- Making sure you keep the most up-to-date contact information on file so we can reach you easily and quickly (phone number, address, emergency contacts).
- Communicating with your child’s teacher when you have concerns or needs.
- Setting a time every day that your child reads at home, or you are reading to your child.
- Completing homework.
- Attending parent-teacher conferences.
- Asking your student to share his/her experience at school.
- Telling your student you are proud of him/her and celebrate often!
South City Principal Pamela Davenport Encourages Getting Involved to Help Kids Thrive
It Takes a Village
I am pleased to welcome you back to the 2019-20 school year! I want to extend a special welcome to all of the new families joining South City Academy this year! I am honored to be your principal.
Our goal at South City Academy is to work together to provide our students with a rich learning environment. My belief is that all students can learn. As educators, we need to discover how each child learns in order to meet their individual needs. In a collaborative effort, we want children to thrive in all ways possible. My hope is that all children will feel welcome in a nurturing learning environment that is positive, safe, caring, as well as a fun place to learn and grow.
Student success is attributed to the partnership and the relationships we build within our community. It truly does take a village! Education is a joint venture and the best results for our children occur when we work together, developing happy, imaginative and caring individuals.
To help us achieve our goals, we encourage you to involve yourself in our children’s ongoing educational development.
Principal Dayle Burgdorf Shares 3 Goals for Academic Success
CPA’s 3 Key Goals
This year at CPA, we have three key goals: First, increase student achievement. Second, create a positive, learning culture. Third, increase our teacher’s capacity within their areas of expertise. Each of these goals has a significant impact on your student and their academic success.
Ensuring your student’s success is our top priority at CPA, they are the center of each and every decision we make. The faculty and staff work hard to build a community that’s inviting, enriching, encouraging, and collaborative. We hope you feel at home here and will get involved in your child’s education with athletics, activities or student government.
Confluence Preparatory Academy is a comprehensive high school that offers students a multitude of opportunities to be involved. They can participate with one of our athletic programs, clubs, or student government. If science or technology is an interest to them, we have a multitude of career pathways for them.
Our team is excited about the upcoming school year and all the “newness” it brings.
GCAA Principal Shane Hopper Invites Students to Explore all the Myriad of Opportunities Awaiting Them This Year
Jewel of the Arts District
Grand Center Arts Academy has gotten off to a fantastic start in 2019-20! This is a very creative and thriving community, one I am supremely proud being part of and representing. Ultimately, we are setting up our young people for current and future success. GCAA is a place to come and explore all the myriad of opportunities that await post-secondary. Whether you enroll, enlist, or employ, the foundation is set for great things beyond high school. We are a jewel in the middle of the St. Louis arts district. Students here can choose a pathway in theatre, dance, music, or fine art. It certainly is a school like no other in our region.
We had our first PTO meeting this year and drew a record crowd of 52 people. It shows an enthusiasm and parental partnership that exists for the great things at GCAA. I have been impressed by the staff, a group of folks dedicated to helping young people. I see them go above and beyond to help our kiddos. While this has all been a very nice start, we anticipate even more great things to come! Thank you for being the best part of our GCAA community and your continued support.
Principal Dr. Leslie Mohammad: Old North is Committed to Academic Experiences that are Rigorous, Relevant & Relationship-Building
Infinite Possibilities at Old North
With enthusiasm and exhilaration, it is my pleasure to welcome new and returning family members to an aspiring school year at Old North Academy! The beginning of a new school year, like the dawning of a new day, reminds us that the future holds infinite possibilities. As a professional learning community with high expectations for excellence in teaching and learning, we are confident that together we have newfound opportunities to improve the lives and futures of Old North Academy students by providing a quality education and learning environment. To that end, we know this is going to be an amazing school year as we embark upon this great, collaborative, educational journey.
In moving forward to ensure a school year of academic achievement and success, I look forward to working in collaboration with each of you as we prepare our Old North Academy students to acquire the knowledge and skills to become productive members of society in a vastly changing world.
This school year’s focus will be on character education initiatives, Missouri learning standards and extra-curricular activities to enhance our scholars’ academic experiences. This year is going to be amazing as we continue to provide academic experiences for our students that are rigorous, relevant, and help them build relationships while making real-world connections.
Together we can achieve! No Excuses! Comets Can! No Excuses! Comets Can!