Collegiate Charter School of Lowell continues to grow – Lowell Sun
LOWELL – When The Collegiate Charter School of Lowell first opened – operating in borrowed spaces – principals probably could not have imagined it would be where it is today and where it will be in a near future.
The academically rigorous college preparatory school will have its first 12th grade next year, when the fully enrolled school is operating with 1,200 students.
“2023 will be the first year of a promotion; Grade 12 students (who have been here from the start) will graduate in June 2023, ”said Walter McGrail, school board member. “A lot of parents have been associated with school from the beginning – bringing their kids to kindergarten and here they are today.”
It was an intoxicating race for school, which didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Looking for a new educational experience, in 2011-12, the founding board of directors was impressed by SABIS and wanted to open a public charter school. SABIS offers a proprietary education model that is now in use at six locations in the United States.
Before the school got its current location, a former mill site, they were launched in 2013 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration. The temporary location used modular buildings in the parking lot and a small classroom space in the church basement, teaching kindergarten to grade 3 students in grade one.
The school stayed there from 2014 to 2016. Enrollment growth started in earnest and the school found a second location for grades 4 to 5 students in 2015, renting out the Hellenic Greek School.
In 2016, the school found its new home at 1857 Middlesex Street. In April, Collegiate opened a new high school building featuring large classrooms with 86-inch interactive screens, three state-of-the-art science labs, and a gymnasium.
“SABIS is a company that began in Lebanon in the 1800s. It was started by a priest and a nun with the sole purpose of educating young women – as it grew it developed and developed. the boys got involved, ”McGrail said. The SABIS school network has more than 70,000 students on five continents.
Collegiate is a tuition-free public charter school that welcomes grades 9-11 students this year. The next school year will educate seniors.
“Our intention was to provide parents, children and the Town of Lowell with a great opportunity and our school is doing it. We strongly support all of the other schools in the area and we want people to know that, ”said McGrail.
The addition of seniors – who will be the 2023 class, Collegiate’s first class – will complete the loop.
“There are parents who really feel comfortable knowing that they can send their child to this school in kindergarten and pick him up in grade 12,” said McGrail. “They know where they are – I’m getting used to the school and staff like them. They feel confident in contacting staff, participating in various school activities, so for some parents it is heartwarming.
McGrail said some parents who grew up in different countries will say, “This is a lot like the school I went to.”
Students have an hour in the middle of each day where they meet their student life groups with different clubs they can join. The school encourages student leaders. With nine departments – including athletics, academics and social responsibility – students apply for jobs within these departments and then become “student leaders”.
The school does a lot of mentoring. High school students come to the lower school and help to tutor or participate in the before and after school program.
“What’s really cool about our school, and all of the SABIS schools, is that we have a student life organization which is a society run by students in grades 6 to 12,” said Liza Anderson , Marketing and Outreach Coordinator.
In the main hall, the grade levels are divided into different wings by 5-8, 9-12, and the corridor on the first floor goes from kindergarten to grade 4.
The ground floor is reserved for English and history lessons. The cafeteria offers free breakfast and lunch for students. The second floor houses art, music and electives. The third floor is home to math and science, as well as a number of half-size classrooms used for workshops – if kids need student services, they can meet with smaller groups there.
Some classrooms overlook the river and fall foliage.
Right now, they are preparing for the International School Fair on Saturday, where each class will represent a different country. They take advantage of the period of student life to meet this class and learn about the country they represent. People and relatives of the audience can come in, listen to music from different countries, taste different dishes and learn about the history of these countries. This will be the third annual fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The whole school will be full. We use both sides. Each floor of the school is a different airport terminal. You will therefore obtain a passport and a boarding pass. It will be super fun, ”Anderson said.
The next phase of the school is to install a permanent grass field with lights. It would be sized to qualify under MIAA standards for soccer or lacrosse leagues.
“We were in the Charter School League, MIAA, but we were ahead of ourselves. That was back when we only had students until grade nine, ”McGrail said.