MARQUETTE - Beginning this fall, the Graveraet School building will host a new alternative middle school program, the Eastside Academy.
Open to students in grades six through eight from any school district, the aim is to create an atmosphere of learning that is different than the traditional school setting, according to the teacher running the program, Kara Graci. It will help students who are motivated and self-displined but might struggle in a larger school.
"It's for students who are looking for a smaller learning environment," she said.
“This will kind of be like a second home for them. They can support each other. I think that’s really important.” — Kara Graci, teacher, Eastside Academy
Teacher Kara Graci works in classrooms in the Graveraet building that students in the Eastside Academy will use starting this fall. (Journal photos by Claire Abent)
The central location will be pivotal for the success of the program, Graci explained.
"One of things that we're most excited about is that we're right out here downtown. They can be involved in internships and volunteering out in the community," she said. "Basically, if they can dream it up, we can make it happen."
Spending time outside the building can provide good learning opportunities, Graci said. Within in the first week of school she would like to take the class at least to the Peter White Public Library to make sure they all have library cards and know how to use them.
Eastside Academy Open House
Thursday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
611 N. Front St. Marquette
Hopefully, she said, the students will be learning outside the classroom at least twice a week from then on.
The facility allows the academy to have other unique educational opportunities. Students will have a large classroom, their own special lounge area, as well as a computer lab for online learning and gym facilities.
Graci hopes that the small class size, coupled with service learning projects, will help the students develop a real sense of community at the school.
"This will kind of be like a second home for them. They can support each other," she said. "I think that's really important."
For students, attending Eastside Academy will allow them to have more direct involvement in their own educations, not only in how they learn, but what they learn, Graci said.
"This is a school and this is classroom, but it's not going to be like school. It's like you're coming to a second home. It's an extension of the community," Graci said.
She wants to reach out to students and gain their input in the classroom.
"That's where the classroom expectations are going to go," she said, pointing at a blank bulletin board on the wall. "But I want them to create them."
Graci was a teacher for 10 years in two other districts in the area before coming to Eastside Academy.
Students who attend Eastside Academy will be able to participate in electives and extracurricular activities at other schools in the district when appropriate.
An application is needed to be considered for the academy and students will be evaluated for admittance on a case by case basis, based on student needs. Only 15 students will be admitted this fall. For more information, call 225-4262. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Eastside Academy will hold an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday for anyone interested in learning more about the school. It is located at 611 N. Front St.
Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.