Nevada Union’s Partnership Academy to be replaced with more ‘robust’ program | TheUnion.com
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Nevada Union’s Partnership Academy to be replaced with more ‘robust’ program

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Some tension was apparent at this month’s only in-person meeting of the Nevada Joint Union High School District as two Nevada Union High School students made attempts during public comment to save the Digital Communications and Arts program.

Otherwise known as the Partnership Academy, the Digital Communications and Arts program is being replaced by a less intimate, more open program that includes an arts, media and entertainment career technical education pathways for the following school year.

Superintendent Brett McFadden said at the March 11 meeting that administrators have not applied for the necessary grants, thereby ending the Partnership Academy as it currently exists after this school year.

But the administrator said the classes offered through the academy won’t be going away.

“We’re not going to get rid of it,” said the superintendent. “We’re going to collapse the program and turn it into an arts, media and entertainment (career technical education) pathway.”

However, by collapsing the academy — which has been around for over two decades and, as administrators acknowledged, many people enjoy — students believe the program will be discontinued. Next year, the program will be inclusive of the entire student population instead of a smaller subset, thereby ending the academy but keeping the classes.

Aaron Schafer, junior at Nevada Union, said at the board meeting that the program offers in-depth discussions where relationships between peers and teachers are more easily fostered.

His peer, junior at Nevada Union, Kyle Barbe agreed.

“It means a ton to me as a student who’s part of it,” said Barbe, who joined the Partnership Academy his freshman year. “There’s a ton of camaraderie.”

Partnership Academy students have the same teachers and a more supportive, relationship-based learning environment, according to Barbe. Students, he said, were not told of the program collapsing for the following year until January — four months after the opportunity to apply for the necessary funding had expired.

Changes being made

Barbe said students are trying to keep the academy going without the grant funding, similar to how the Humanities Academy at Nevada Union is structured. As of March 13, over 700 individuals signed an online petition to prevent the Partnership Academy from being overhauled.

But their efforts won’t be possible, according to McFadden, because the Humanities Academy doesn’t use grant funding to sustain itself.

“(It) was a decision that was made by the district,” he said, adding that he hopes the program will be more robust and inclusive of more students the following year.

Changes to the program are being made, according to administrators, because 41% of Nevada Union students want to take arts, media and entertainment courses, and are prevented from doing so.

Additionally, the program in its current iteration is not aligned with career technical education standards and, last year, only maintained 11 students, said McFadden.

Aurora Thompson, who applies for the academy’s grant funding, agreed.

“(It’s) not meeting the mark,” she said, noting that students are not getting internships in fields related to the academy, nor completing a career technical education pathway, which is tied to the grant’s proposal.

Barbe, who acknowledged the validity of Thompson’s claims, said students are still getting jobs in fields related to the academy, including at places like Telestream.

Ultimately, the junior is hopeful the program will be able to stick around, at least for another year.

“I think we have a pretty good chance of staying,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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