November 06, 2013 - There was cause for much celebration Friday on the Oxford campus of Crossroads for Youth as a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new Deer Trail Academy (DTA).
Deer Trail Academy Board President Rev. Joyce Matthews (from left), Vice President Andrienne Cottingham, Principal Andie Jump and Cindy Schumacher, executive director of the Gov. John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, cut the ribbon to officially open the new charter school. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
"Today is a very special day for (us as) we get to present our school formally to everyone in the community," said Principal Andie Jump.
Open since Sept. 3, the new charter public school, authorized by Central Michigan University (CMU), is a Strict Discipline Academy that caters exclusively to students in grades 5-12 placed there by the court system, county juvenile agency or the state Department of Human Services.
It also serves students who have been either expelled or placed on long-term suspension from other schools.
"The school's path is different. It is not like every other school; it's not meant to be," said Jump, speaking to an audience that included DTA students. "And neither are the students' paths. They're not meant to be (alike). Your path and your path and your path are all different in where you want to go and how you want to get there. Our school is here to make sure that whatever is best for them, we ensure that's what they get."
Deer Trail Academy currently has 66 students attending the Oxford campus and 11 attending the Oak Park campus.
DTA works hand-in-hand with the Brighton-based CS Partners, an education service provider that specializes in comprehensive school management services.
DTA ninth-grader Alex Taylor had nothing but praise for the new school.
"Deer Trail Academy is very organized (in) what they do," he said. "They have a specific goal that they achieve every day and they always make sure every student understands and learns the material instead of taking a test and moving on to the next topic."
"Being a student at DTA is a privilege to me and I do my best to take advantage of the material while I'm still here," Taylor continued. "I can see the effort that the teachers and staff of DTA are giving to make this school better. They do a good job (of) keeping the kids that don't want to learn out of class, so the ones who do can work in peace."
"I have never left this school unhappy with what I (have) learned . . . I'm not going to be here for much longer, but I'm going to miss and remember this school forever."
Dr. Janet McPeek, president of Crossroads for Youth, views Deer Trail Academy as an extension of her organization's belief that "every child deserves a chance."
Crossroads sponsored the creation of this charter school as a way to better serve the at-risk and troubled youth that it's been charged with helping to succeed in life for more than 60 years as well as other youth in need of an alternative educational experience.
"For kids, everything is about school," McPeek said. "We can (give) the best treatment in the world, but it's pointless if they do not have access to an absolutely wonderful, top-notch educational program – Deer Trail Academy. And now, we have it."
Cindy Schumacher, executive director of the Gov. John Engler Center for Charter Schools at CMU, was pleased with what she saw during her tour of DTA.
"I've seen a great deal of promise," she said. "Many of the students are hoping for a new beginning. They dream of a future that is bright and filled with success. And they came to the right school."
"I know for a fact that this school and the people leading it are ready to assist in that quest for change," Schumacher noted. "Working together, students, you'll change your life, you'll change your classmates' lives, but you'll also change lives in your community."
Schumacher said the Gov. John Engler Center for Charter Schools "believes" and "expects" DTA will prepare students for "success in college, work and life."
"By coming to the academy, students, you've taken that first step to a brighter future," she said. "Deer Trail Academy is here to help you discover your path to success. So, embrace it and just see how far you can fly."
Jump pointed to American inventor Thomas Edison as an example how many, many failures can eventually lead to successes like the electric light bulb.
"Everyone has trials and tribulations in their life," she said. "Nobody's perfect. Everyone has failed. Without failure, you don't have success."
"When we venture into something new and when we look to what's in our future, everyone's path is different," Jump noted. "You need compassion, caring, support and you need somebody sometimes to give you that little push . . . That's what we do (at DTA).
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.