EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Parents and community members got a sneak peek at the new, permanent location for the International Academy of Atlantic City Charter School Tuesday, two days before school starts for the year.
“They now have a computer room. Everything is new, nice classrooms,” said Monica Ahuyon, of Egg Harbor Township, a parent of two students. “I’m so excited.”
A green ribbon stretched across the front doors of the new K-5 facility inside a storefront at the Cardiff Power Center on the Black Horse Pike as school officials and stakeholders talked about the process of opening the location.
“This is a historic moment for our school,” said Chief School Administrator Natakie Chestnut.
Founder and board President Peter Caporilli said the event was years in the making, but there is much more work to do to turn the facility into the K-12 school it hopes to be. He hopes to add a grade level each year. Currently, the district serves about 340 students.
The International Academy of Atlantic City was previously located at the former St. Peter’s school in Pleasantville. When it opened in 2015, the school served 254 students in kindergarten through third grade from Atlantic City and Pleasantville.
Chestnut said that when the school opened, the staff began building a community that extended beyond its "humble beginnings."
“And this is only phase one,” she said. “My students and my staff deserved much more.”
The International Academy of Atlantic City is part of the SABIS Network of charter schools that includes 70,000 students in 20 countries. The organization began in 1886.
Caporilli thanked the SABIS Network for seeing a need for school choice for families who are mismatched with the educational opportunities available to them.
Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough also attended the ceremony to support the new school facility.
“Welcome to Egg Harbor Township. This is your new home,” McCullough said, adding he believes the school could expand more in the mostly vacant shopping center.
Tiki Anderson, of Pleasantville said she was happy about the larger and more updated facility. She said she hopes it will provide the school room to grow.
Anderson’s son Marcus, 9, is enrolled at the International Academy of Atlantic City, while her older son will be entering ninth grade at Pleasantville High School this year.
“I think if they did have a freshmen class here, all the way through 12th grade, I would very much encourage my (older) son to enroll here,” Anderson said.