Monday, October 27, 2008

Ridge View Academy in the News

The Rocky Mountain News had a great article about the Ridge View Academy football team. Well, after you get past the inaccuracies about the schools mentioned in the two related articles, that is. Ridge View Academy is not a "private" school, but rather a private youth detention facility with a public charter school educational program. The article also says that D'Evelyn is a "chartered academic" school, which is patently false. It's a district magnet school. Since the articles were in the sports section, the mistaken reporter can be forgiven.

Ridge View Academy is an excellent model of positive peer pressure. The facility is run by Rite of Passage, a company that has experience operating similar facilities in other states. Ridge View Academy is chartered by Denver Public Schools and serves about 400 males in a residential facility that looks much like a college campus.

I've attended athletic events at RVA and been on campus for meetings or tours more times than I can count. I highly recommend a school tour for anyone working with high-risk youth. Students leave either enlisted, enrolled or employed. The school boasts a low residivism rate.

Students can achieve different ranks based on their behavior. Higher ranking students set the school culture and are responsible for lower-ranking students' behavior if they see it. The young men at RVA learn self-discipline (everyone participates in a sport and has regular physical exercise) and get a good education. Further, students all learn a trade such as barbering, auto mechanics, video production, tile trades, construction, or welding.

For several years RVA students have done community service projects in Denver Public Schools facilities, such as wall repair, saving the district thousands of dollars each year.

RVA focuses on character development as a central aspect of their program and are very successful with some pretty serious offenders. Clearly, a key to their success is the people they hire and train who are passionate about improving the lives of these young men.

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