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Blackfoot charter schools host open houses to highlight differences

The Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center and Bingham Academy are both located in the same mall, but they are different.

The BCCLC is a middle school serving grades 5-8 and Bingham Academy is a high school.

On Tuesday, the schools were clearing up any confusion about them being connected.

“A lot of people in the community may have been misinformed or have some wrong ideas about what goes on here,” Bingham Academy principal Mark Fisk said.

Due to an ongoing planning and zoning disagreement with the City of Blackfoot, members of the two charter schools have been trying to explain that the BCCLC and Bingham Academy are not one and the same.

“We began to think about how, you know, what’s our responsibility in that in terms of communicating to community stakeholders and partners and things like that. And so, one of the ways we sought to address that is just open the doors and let people come in and take a tour,” Fisk said. “It’s not just a converted movie theater, there’s a lot more that goes on here.”

Among those things is the work that has awarded Bingham Academy the first STEM designation for a high school in the entire state.

“Its a vindication, to me, of the program that we’re offering here, in southeastern Idaho, in rural Idaho, we’re doing some amazing and incredible things,” Fisk said.

Just a stone’s throw away, at the BCCLC, a similar message was being echoed.

“Tonight, we just kind of want to get the word out that we’re here, we’re doing some really cool things, we’re helping out a lot of kiddos,” BCCLC principal Craig Gerard said.

Gerard said the BCCLC is trying a whole host of new things this year such as Knight Tokens, which reward grades for their positive behavior and academic success, as well as incorporating new focuses on technology.

“Pushing things such as drones, and 3D printing, while at the same time integrating things like literature, the study of literature and ELA and math, and those types of things,” he explained.

Classes began at the two schools last Monday, and while the academic year is still young, Gerard is excited to see the growth of his students.

“In terms of academics and behavior and just opening up and broadening the horizons of these kids, I’m really excited to see where they are now versus where they are going to be in May.”

Another thing Gerard is excited about is the school’s recent AdvancED accreditation, which he says is a validation of the work they are doing.

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