Journalism Next from Braden River High School: Four career academies, one school: A unique achievement

Special to the HeraldJanuary 21, 2013 

With over 25,000 public high schools in the United States, Braden River has achieved something that has never happened before.

On Nov. 10, the school received public recognition from the National Career Academy Coalition as the only school to ever have all four academies reach "model" status in the same year. Braden River is a wall-to-wall academy school that requires all students to be a part of one of the academies. This means that the academies were judged and deemed exemplary in their fields of study and in preparing students for the real world.

The conference and awards ceremony was held in Nashville, Tenn., and a team of teachers and administrators made the trip to present and showcase the four academies. Although they were judged last school year through an extensive process of interviews and examinations, they did not receive formal recognition until this conference. The Coalition rates the academies on a system of either "in progress," "certified," or "model."

At the conference, teachers, including Michelle Shasho, gave a presentation on certain aspects of academy learning and how our school achieved model status. The interest in the presentation was so great that many people were turned away because they couldn't fit anyone else in the room.

"I spoke on senior projects because it is our capstone project and it was really important for other schools to see how we run that," explains Shasho. "It ties all the academies together by giving students real world experiences in their interests."

When the awards were given out that Saturday, schools from across the country gathered to receive recognition for their academies.

"It was really exciting because when we were there, everyone was there for their one academy and they kept calling up Braden River over and over again," Shasho said.

As heads turned with wonder, a school from Bradenton became the only school in the country to achieve this feat in the same year. This puts it on the map as one of the best schools around for academy learning. The only other academies to achieve model status in Manatee County are Manatee High School's Medical Academy and Southeast High School's Visual and Performing Arts Academy.

PrincipalJennifer Gilray stated, "It's not just what we do; it's how well we do it. The important part of having academies is making sure we are doing it the right way."

Apparently they are doing everything the right way because high schools all over the country that have existed for years are looking up to Braden River, a school that is less than a decade old. This is an unprecedented accomplishment that everyone should be proud of, including the students.

Senior Matthew Tschiggfrie expresses that, "I think it's awesome that we are one of the top academic schools in the nation and it just adds to the list of accomplishments to be proud of."

The pressure to excel at everything academic does not stop here and administration is constantly thinking of new ways to improve and adapt to the new levels of learning. New classes such as Chinese and AP European History are just a couple of the unique outlets of education that Braden River offers. As the school continues to grow at this torrid pace since its opening in 2005, there will always be room for advancement in learning. However, it is nice to know that it is one of the best academic schools in the country and it operates right here in Bradenton.

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