When my family and I decided we need to move from Laramie, Wyoming to Dover, New Hampshire, one of our main concerns were good schools for our kids. Woodman Park Elementary online reviews horrified us–Great Schools ranked the elementary at a two, way below average then what we expect from our children, even in first grade.
For example, when our son was on an IEP in preschool, we were asked what one of our main concerns were, and my number one answer was that he went on to college and earned his Master’s degree. Already, he asks questions I cannot answer:
“Do we evolve?”
“I think maybe we’re done.”
“But everything changes to adapt to its environment.”
“So what if our environment changes?”
“I don’t know kid. Maybe we’ll wear more clothes.”
“But maybe we could breath underwater.”
“Yeah, that would be cool.”
“Why are there explosions in space on TV? That doesn’t make sense. You can’t hear explosions in space. Did you know that?”
“Have you heard about Megalodon?”
“I wonder how big it was. It was a shark, you know that right, Dad?”
“A T-Rex’s head could fit inside its mouth. That’s pretty cool.”
My head hurts by this point and I wonder why we can’t just once have a conversation about literature. Those Narnia books over in the corner look pretty interesting.
“They seem pretty made up, Dad. Just saying.”
So yeah. Putting him in a school with a low low rank of two, but Woodman has been awesome, and I don’t understand the ranking. The sentiment is reflected in community reviews, most of which are four or five stars.
He’ll be fine in the public school; already he is bragging about doing second grade math, a whole year ahead.
My daughter and I searched online for what the Dover High School was like. It looked decent enough, but my daughter is a dancer, plays the cello, writes stories, does web comics, draws amazing looking dragons, and was used to a way smaller environment. Online photos did not do the school justice; I’ve been on the inside and my impression was cavernous. There would be a lot of kids there. My daughter’s incoming freshman class alone would number well over 500.
I felt she might get lost. I felt I’d get lost.
During our research in Wyoming we ran across Cocheco Academy of the Arts, formally known as Cocheco Arts and Technology Academy and known on friendlier terms as just simply CATA.
CATA is a college preparatory, public charter school for 9th through 12th grade students. You don’t graduate unless you are accepted into a institution of higher education. The entire school numbers from freshman to senior roughly 70 students, give or take a few. And they are not STEM-based, not solely focused on Science, technology, engineering, and math, but they have moved forward with STEAM–science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
The art is not forgotten. Art is what holds the CATA program together. And I cannot stress the heavy weight and importance of art. Art is what has held my daughter together in periods of long sleep deprivation. Art kept her sane and allowed her to push beyond her body’s limitations. The school has made a huge difference in her life, and I never thought I would be a supporter of charter schools.
But here I am.
The school, however, does not receive all the necessary money it needs from the state to operate successful. And the CATA Parents Association has begun a GoFundMe campaign, a Bridge the Gap to Success campaign. CATA’s mission is to provide excellence in secondary education through college preparatory academics, performing arts, fine arts, and technology related to the arts. I’d ask that you donate. Three dollars, five dollars. And if you can’t afford a donation, share the campaign everywhere you can: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram.
Whatever you can do. Make a difference. Change a young person’s life.
Words from CATA students:
“What I love about CATA is its absolute emphasis on freedom of the individual. We are always encouraged to push ahead and forward with our endeavors, creative or otherwise, and that is something unparalleled for me in the various schools I have attended and the jobs I have worked.” -Theo Wright
“Cocheco Arts allowed me to find my passion and explore it freely. This school provided me with the support and guidance to do what I love and improve my skills. My teachers understand what I’m capable of, and push me to put forth the best version of myself in everything I do. With the experience I’ve had at CATA, I feel incredibly prepared and ready for life after highschool, how many 17 year olds can say that?” -Sophie Jordan
“I came to this school for art, and I’ve had so many great experiences with it here. But as well as that, I’ve made some wonderful friends and met some amazing staff. It’s a home.” -Willow Nelson
“I came to this school to better my art and to be in a safe, accepting, and comfortable environment. The school was exactly what I was looking for and so much more.”
“CATA has been a lot of things for me, more than just an educational environment. The learning environment is very unique, as there is opportunity for arts integration in every class. The community here is incredibly tight-knit, and everyone knows each other. People support others here, even if they’re not that close, because everyone here has respect for everyone else. It’s astounding to see an entire high-school that is so united, so kind to one another, so supportive of one another. I have grown so much at CATA, so much more than if I had attended a public high school, because there I likely would’ve slipped through the cracks. I might sound cheesy, but I truly would not be the person I am today without CATA.” -Zach Gaulin
CATA AROUND THE WEB
For the rest of June, I’ll include the GoFundMe link at the end of the post.