Presentation focuses on Academy 21 program

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published January 11, 2023

 Jennifer Wickersham, principal of Academy 21, provides an update on the program during the Dec. 12 Center Line Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

Jennifer Wickersham, principal of Academy 21, provides an update on the program during the Dec. 12 Center Line Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


CENTER LINE/WARREN —  The Center Line Public Schools Board of Education recently received an update on the district’s Academy 21 program.

Jennifer Wickersham, Academy 21’s principal, provided the board with a PowerPoint presentation during the Dec. 12 school board meeting held at the Eve Kaltz Academy 21 & Special Programs Center. Several Academy 21 staff members attended the meeting.

The school board meeting was held at the school, located in the former Peck Elementary building, after a ceremony to dedicate the new school, named after retired Superintendent Eve Kaltz. Moving over to the former Peck has provided Academy 21 students and staff with much more needed space.

The Academy 21 program, once located in the former Ellis School, was created several years ago as a hybrid virtual learning environment for high school students that had not been successful at Center Line High School. Dropout prevention is one of the program’s goals.

Academy 21 is also open to Schools of Choice students during limited enrollment windows. Schools of Choice provides parents the opportunity to move their child from one school to another within the boundaries of the school district, or allow nonresident students to enroll in another district. Wickersham said 40% of the Academy 21 students enroll through Schools of Choice.

Academy 21 combines online learning with in-person instruction from teachers. The coursework is delivered online, and students work individually at their own pace. The program eventually became open to middle school students. When the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March of 2020, elementary students could enroll.

Some Academy 21 online courses include asynchronous instruction, which is learning that occurs when the teacher is not present and is also known as “independent learning.” There also is synchronous instruction in which learning occurs when the teacher is present, either virtually or in person. It is also known as “live” learning. Academy 21 uses Calvert Learning, Edgenuity, Odysseyware and Google Classroom virtual programs and platforms.

The sixth through 12th grade students generally come to school in person twice a week, either in the morning or afternoon, and then continue their course work virtually. The elementary school students attend in-person class once a week in the morning, and attend class virtually the rest of the week.

According to the presentation, 29 elementary school students are in multi-age classes that include English language arts, math, science and social studies. Art, music, physical education and technology also are offered through Calvert and Google Classroom lessons that are self-paced through the semester.

There are 21 middle school and 147 high school students. The middle school students are enrolled in English language arts, math, social studies, science and two electives per semester. The high school courses must meet the Michigan Merit Curriculum graduation requirements. Career technical education, band and drama at Center Line High School, Early College of Macomb and field trips also are offered.

During the meeting, Wickersham also shared with the board the Title I workshops for the 2022-2023 school year. In October, the students were exposed to banking through a presentation with Extra Credit Union. Other workshops are scheduled, including an event focusing on mental health and teen issues set for this May.

At the end of the presentation, school board President Gary Gasowski offered a suggestion regarding the mental health clinic. Instead of waiting until May, he asked whether staff could offer the service earlier in the school year to make it more beneficial for the students.

“I think your presentation was excellent,” Gasowski added. “I thank the staff for being here.”

The Eve Kaltz Academy 21 & Special Programs Center houses other programs, including early childhood special education and the Great Start Readiness Program. In January 2021, the brand-new Peck Elementary and Early Childhood Center opened at 26201 Lorraine in Center Line.