It’s all about college at Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea

Date Published: 
October 5, 2014
Kathy McCabe
News Type: 

Jordan Bazmore travels 90 minutes each way — on two MBTA buses and an Orange Line train — between his home in Roxbury and Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea.

The 18-year-old senior doesn’t mind the trek. Or the school uniform of collared shirts and khaki pants. Or late nights spent studying after soccer and basketball games.

“This is the right place for me,” said Bazmore, dressed in a gray school fleece. “It’s had its ups and downs. The first few years, I was new, so I couldn’t play a role as a leader.’’

For students deciding which high school to attend, a charter school may offer an alternative to either a traditional public school or a private school.

Bazmore decided to attend the same school as his older brother Dorien, who graduated in 2013, on his mother’s recommendation. “She thought it would be a good idea for me to come here with my brother,’’ he said.

Phoenix Charter, which opened in 2006, has 193 students, offers college preparatory courses, and has a broad network of social support. There also are Phoenix Charter schools in Lawrence and Springfield.

Charter schools offer an alternative learning experience from traditional public schools. Though Bazmore doesn’t fall into the category, Phoenix Charter’s mission is to enroll students who might not graduate high school otherwise, or are older students who dropped out of their previous schools.

“We have rigorous academics and high accountability,” said Kacy Robinson, the Chelsea school’s headmaster. “Our mission statement speaks of ‘relentless support.’ We have a whole staff rallying around them.”

Acceptance to at least one college is a requirement for graduation. “We really want kids to get their diplomas and go off to college,” Robinson said.

Bazmore, who said he has a B average, is enrolled in honors courses. He’s also taking advanced placement physics and English literature. “I like to challenge myself,” he said. “If the courses are here, why not do it?”

He attended NuVu Studio, a technology enrichment program affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he learned to design robots and websites, among other creations.

“I really wasn’t into technology until I went to MIT,” he said.

“Doing that hands-on work there really opened my eyes to it. I don’t think I would have had that opportunity if I went to another school.”

Bazmore now is preparing to launch his college search. He’s already decided to apply to Georgia Institute of Technology and Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

“I’ve learned to make decisions here,” Bazmore said.