ACE ACADEMY - HISTORY
In 1996, the Cherokee County School District was awarded a F97 grant to establish an alternative school to serve the county’s established schools. Many Georgia school districts receiving these grants incorporated “Crossroads” into the name of their education centers established for these purposes…including the Cherokee County School District with the opening of CrossRoads HS/MS (1996). Beginning with a staff of four and two students, CrossRoads HS/MS developed into a premier alternative school program in the state of Georgia and the Southeastern region.
However, Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Act (2000) later eliminated the Crossroads grants and funding for alternative education programs was folded into the State’s Quality Basic Education (QBE). Then, in 2010, the State School Board adopted a revision to the Alternative Education Program Rule (160-4-8-.12) to expand the following types of curricular programs into its definition: Attendance Recovery, Credit Recovery, Disciplinary Program, Early College, Evening School, and Open Campus. As a result of these shifts in law, funding and policy, many Georgia school districts began reorganizing their alternative education program options and changing the names of their (original) CrossRoads academies to reflect more localized initiatives.
Although, from its inception, CrossRoads HS/MS primarily provided a disciplinary alternative setting for high school (9-12) students, its curricular and operational programming evolved to provide the following educational components:
- enrollment of volunteer students, middle grade (6-8) students, and in specific circumstances, students with disabilities;
- choice of alternative instructional delivery models (both teacher-directed and student-directed instruction);
- choice of textbook and computer based instructional units;
- initial credit and credit recovery options to meet state and local graduation requirements;
- student mastery of the content material as the determining factor in awarding course credit, rather than instructional contact time;
- opportunities for attendance recovery; and,
- expansion of choice in curricular offerings in response to student needs and interests. As such, CrossRoads HS/MS was the first CCSD high school to provide students the choice of German as a foreign language option.
However, considering that:
- the State School Board Rule establishing the Crossroads Alternative Education Program was replaced with the Alternative Education Program State Board Rule, which was much more inclusive of other educational delivery model choices;
- CrossRoads HS/MS had developed far past the initial conceptualization and continued to provide a proven record of success;
- CrossRoads HS/MS was positioned to be instrumental in the further development and expansion of truly alternative education delivery program choices; and,
- the Cherokee County School District began developing and implementing the Academy Initiative to enhance school choice within and throughout the district;
it was recommended in August, 2012 by Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, the Superintendent of Schools for the Cherokee County School District, that the school’s name be changed from CrossRoads HS/MS to ACE (Alternative Choices in Education) Academy. This name change fully supported the belief that ACE Academy better reflected the uniqueness of this excellent program, the opportunities of choice provided to CCSD students of the Cherokee County School District, and its potential position within the concepts postulated for the future of the Cherokee Academy Initiative.
In the summer of 2014, ACE Academy relocated from the Holly Springs location to the former Marie Archer Teasley Middle School facility. A replacement building was provided for the middle school and, in doing so, ACE Academy was able to occupy the building on Knox Bridge Highway in July, 2014.
Building upon these program strategies, in the school years from 2012 to 2021, ACE Academy successfully graduated 620 CCSD students. Of those students, 65% or 405 of the 620 students, did so ahead of their peers in the regular school programs. Many of these students were at risk of not completing high school or dropping out for a variety of reasons.
However, beginning in the Fall of 2021, ACE Academy underwent a redesign. This redesign refocused the program on the role it played in the disciplinary/tribunal process for the school district. As such, enrollment was limited to only those students who violated the district’s Student Code of Conduct and were placed at ACE Academy as the result of a disciplinary tribunal hearing. In addition, during this time ACE Academy was part of the district wide implementation of a new computer based curricular program called Edgenuity.