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Academy hosts open house

By Staff | Oct 28, 2016

Saturday marked a ceremonial event with a ribbon cutting and Open House at Morgan Academy’s new location. The Academy, that focuses on personalized learning, opened in 2004 and has had three additional homes before the final move to its new location on Shepherdstown Pike, according to co-founder Bernardine Somers.

Somers, along with Patty Neely, developed the Academy because they believe that children learn in different ways and should have fun while learning. Housing 58 students in grades K-8, the Academy’s capacity would be at 60. In addition to the full time school age students, the Academy hosts a preschool that averages no more than 15 students per day.

The one-room schoolhouse approach affords students the opportunity to interact with and learn from their peers and it expands the usual classroom definition of “peers” to include students of various ages, abilities and frames of reference. Somers indicated that students are group in “Pods” rather than classrooms. The students are grouped based on their abilities rather than their age so that they may share some subjects with those older or younger than themselves.

Class size is limited to 12 students with tuition and fees for a 180-day school year coming in at about $8,500.

Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Each day begins with a circle assembly in the main room

The academy is recognized by the West Virginia Department of Education, “like any private school,” Somers said.

The school’s five teachers cover history, math, science, reading, language arts and Spanish.

According to the Academy’s Facebook page description, “Flexible placement, based on meeting children at their own challenge levels, fosters a unique cohesiveness among all of the student body.”

The new home for the Academy was once a bar, laughed Somers.

“I used to come here in my college days,” she said.

The location, which was a building shell when the Academy acquired it, sits on approximately 14 acres. The building was designed with subject classrooms, a “lunch room,” a library and a myriad of outdoor spaces.

“Plans have been made for a garden,” Somers said. The students will also raise chickens for egg production.

“We are going to have a lot of fresh food for the kids,” Somers said. She stressed that nutrition is a very important component of the Academy.

Lori Robertson, director of operations for the Academy, gave a tour Saturday of the garden plot. The beds will be raised so that students can easily access the plants. A fence will surround the garden area to keep out deer and other hungry critters.

“It’s a fun space to get the children engaged,” Robertston said.

In addition to the garden area and the chicken coop, there is a nature trail around the property that the students use daily, Somers said.

Somers welcomed scores of folks to the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, voicing appreciation for all that the townspeople have done over the years to make the Academy successful.

“We wanted everyone to see and share,” Somers said, as she commended the generosity and love shown to Morgan Academy over the last 14 years.