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Ward 8 residents cannot wait any longer for better public schools. This was the consensus at the groundbreaking of the new Rocketship school, April 14, in Woodland Terrace, SE.

“We shouldn’t have to leave our community for a good school,” said Anthony Lorenzo Green, chair of ANC 8B, an early champion of  the school being built. “Students deserve the right to walk to a school in their neighborhood, and I made it my business to keep the dialogue going.”

Rocketship Education, a nonprofit network of public charter elementary schools, works to eliminate the achievement gap by serving primarily low-income students across the country in neighborhoods where access to high-performing schools are limited. Education is provided on three pillars: excellent teachers and leaders, personalized learning through technology, and deeply engaged parents.

Keisha Clark, Ward 8 resident and mother of three, spoke about her visit to Rocketship’s Nashville location. “I was very pleased with everything,” she said, recalling the hands-on instruction from teachers and peer-to-peer mentoring environment among students. When she walked into a kindergarten class, Clark said, she immediately noticed students reading above grade level. “It’s like these kids were in school for years,” she said.

Rocketship schools are also located in San Jose, Calif., and Milwaukee, Wis. For those who could not visit an existing location, a short video showed students performing a morning ritual: singing, dancing and warming up for the day. This time, Katy Perry’s “Eye of the Tiger” was the theme song as students sang along: “I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

The new location is expected to be a 54,000 square foot building on a campus of nearly 4 acres. Surrounded by trees and hills, the campus will feature a nature trail for students – a unique amenity in an urban setting.

Slated to open in August 2016, the school will serve grades kindergarten through five in the Ward 8 community. Among them will be Clark’s 4-year-old daughter. “With Rocketship,” Clark said, “it’s no doubt in my mind she’ll be going to a place where she’ll succeed.”