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Sierra Mountain High School renamed North Point Academy

The school year is drawing near, and families have a host of options for the type and location of schools in Nevada County.

One of those schools, Sierra Mountain High School, has changed its name to North Point Academy and added some programs to a small and highly flexible independent and home-study high school, which is a part of the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

The school carried its previous moniker for decades, but administrators have worked for two years to change the name in order to reflect something new and different from the rather often-used “Sierra.” The school board considered the changes in the months of May and June and approved the name North Point Academy earlier this summer.



The name “North Point Academy” was derived from the land features of the surrounding area as in past christenings; the North Star Mine was close by. North Star High School had already been taken, and brought with it the association of ski slopes, so administrators decided on North Point Academy instead, said Principal Anita Bagwell.

“Having a small school setting, we’re able to do some of the things we haven’t been able to do on larger campuses.”
Principal Anita Bagwell

The school has a staff of six teachers and averages about 100 students, though it seeks to expand and offers some new things for the upcoming school year.




One of the changes is school-wide wireless Internet accessibility. The academy will also make computers, laptops and printers available for students to check out.

In addition to online or independent study coursework, students can take optional support classes that are offered twice weekly at North Point or at Bear River or Nevada Union high schools, as desired.

The school’s main feature is flexibility, Bagwell said, made possible by the way classes and instruction is set up. Often in a traditional school setting, a student’s vacation time or alternate profession can get in the way of studies and be burdensome for teachers. North Point Academy welcomes such fluctuations, Bagwell said.

“At North Point, they can stay enrolled and take online courses,” Bagwell said.

Students can also enroll at Nevada Union or Bear River for a semester and then take a semester at North Point Academy. Students also have the flexibility to participate in a sport at one of the larger high schools whiled enrolled at North Point, Bagwell said.

“They can feasibly enroll at NU for semester one, in January enroll at North Point, travel with family and continue to do the same matching coursework online or through a textbook,” Bagwell said as an example.

North Point students can also, with a more rigorous course load, graduate in three years instead of the traditional four and take some classes at Sierra College.

North Point differs from a charter school in that it is still held to the same standards as other Nevada Joint Union High School District schools, as well as accountability and, for the most part, the same curriculum defined by the district, while also offering individualized attention in a small setting, Bagwell said.

“We’re trying to still compete and draw families into a flexible setting, realizing more and more in a fast-paced and changing world, families want to be able to shop for schools and look at the best products out there,” Bagwell said. “Having a small school setting, we’re able to do some of the things we haven’t been able to do on larger campuses.”

North Point Academy is located at 12338 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley. For more information, visit the new website which launches Aug. 1 at http://www.njuhsd.com/NPA or contact Bagwell at 530-272-2643, ext. 201

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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