Success came quickly for The Academy at Mingus and for its first graduate, Sean Rutledge. He received his Mingus Union High School diploma during a special ceremony Thursday morning.
The academy is new to Mingus Union this year. It was developed, in its own building on campus, to give a second chance at a high school diploma to students who are too far behind on credits or who have already dropped out. According to Superintendent Tim Foist, about 10 percent of Mingus students drop out of school before graduation.
The entire curriculum is online, and the students work at their own speed on the subjects they need to work on. Foist said the classes are presented at the students' individual reading level. He said the idea is to place the individual student where you know he or she will be successful
Students attend the academy for four hours each day. For now, the academy offers two shifts each day.
Diane Uidenich, director of the academy, said the school originally looked to start the current year with 35 students, but now has 60 with a waiting list. "We're thinking about opening a night session," she said. "We've had requests."
Uidenich said the academy is in transition, trying to meet the needs of the students. "We are a work in progress," she said.
"It's wonderful," Uidenich said, "the kids are great. They've met our expectations, and exceeded them."
Sean said now that he has graduated, he will probably be involved in MUHS girls basketball. He played basketball for Mingus for two years before dropping out. He said he dropped out so he could finish high school through the Primavera online school. But that didn't work out, so he enrolled in the academy.
He is now going to try to get a job at the school coaching junior varsity girls basketball, or as assistant coach for varsity girls basketball.
Academy students are welcomed to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports.
Foist believes the academy students will learn to feel great about themselves. He said the students are going to become successes.
Uidenich agrees. "We are changing their lives, but they are changing our lives, too."
For information, call (928) 634-8640.