Issue July 2010 - Littlerock News is a community effort, all volunteer staff

The Fruit Basket of the
Antelope Valley

Board vote changes Almondale school to Keppel Academy

By JULIE DRAKE
Valley Press Staff Writer
LITTLEROCK -- Almondale Middle School is now Keppel Academy, as it becomes an Advancement Via Individual Determination-based school with a focus on strategies that will help prepare students for high school and college.
Keppel Union School District's Board of Trustees unanimously assigned the new name at its Thursday meeting.
The public was invited to submit nominations for the academy's name. A school district subcommittee then selected the Top 10 names and presented it to board members for their review.
In addition to Keppel Academy, the list included Academy of Excellence/Excellence Academy, Academy of the Desert, Camelot Academy, Excel Academy, Littlerock Academy, Sagewind Academy, Mountain View Academy, Coyote Academy, and Center Point Academy.
Board President Manuel Maga-na said he liked Keppel Academy because the name "kept it in the family," since the academy is in Keppel Union School District.
Richie Romero, the new principal at Keppel Academy, agreed.
"There's no doubt where it is," he said. "We know where we are, we know who we are, and now we're moving forward."
Keppel Academy will have 14 teachers for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Students who will be in the
eighth grade in the fall already have a spot in the school. School district officials interviewed hundreds of prospective sixth- and seventh-graders for spots in the academy.

District officials interviewed about  150 Keppel fifth-graders for 99 spots and about 180 Keppel sixth-graders for 99 spots. Romero said a "pod" of eighth-graders will take AVID, and a "pod" of eighth-graders will receive  the  regular  instructional program.
"We're not going to force anyone into the AVID model, but those other teachers will still be using a lot of the AVID instruc

tional strategies," he said. "Because they're time-tested, good things for kids, and that's ultimately what we're all about -- -trying to do good things for kids."
Romero said after school begins in August, the students will be allowed to select a new mascot and school colors.
This summer, Romero and Keppel Academy's teaching staff will attend the AVID Summer Institute in San Diego.
"We'll do some team-building time, we'll begin to really start to create the identity for the school with the staff that we have, looking to take what the district and the board want for that school and turn it into a reality," Romero said.
School  district  officials  hope to secure financial help from one of two competitive federal grants to help pay for Keppel Academy's transformation.
"Obviously those will be a benefit and be a help, but the district is committed to making it work within the resources that they have," Romero said. "This will happen with or without the federal stimulus money."
Almondale historically has had
a negative image in the community. The school has been known by some as "Almondjail," a derisive term that has been around for 21 years or longer.
"We have a real unique opportunity to create a whole new culture within an existing school site, and that's we want to make that happen," Romero said.

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