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Vertus High School expands with new building

Vertus High School, a year-round charter boys’ high school, opens its new building to the public on Saturday.

The school is in a converted manufacturing space on Humboldt Street at Culver Road. The $4 million renovation includes classroom space, a cafeteria, computer labs and a soon-to-be completed gym.

“We could not be prouder or more grateful than we are,” said co-founder Perry White, who works as the school’s director of external affairs. “It’s designed for our unique program.”

The renovated, leased space will allow for the 2-year-old school to expand enrollment. Launched in 2014, the school started with 100 ninth-grade students and grew to 130 ninth and 10th grade students for the 2015-2016 school year.

Those students moved to the new building last week, where they were greeted by a light-filled atrium and walls decorated with oversize pictures of students and staff. A gray-tiled staircase leads up to the hallways and classrooms in back.

Growing the school after the first two years hinged on moving to a larger space, and the new Vertus High School will allow the school to expand to 380 students eventually, though the target for this fall is 260, White said.

The open house on Saturday is part of an ongoing effort to recruit new students.

“We will be financially self-sustaining when we reach full enrollment,” White said of the 380 figure.

Focused now on attracting new ninth and 10th grade students, it eventually is to include students at all high school levels.

But grade levels are largely beside the point in a program that emphasizes individualized learning. Students work at their own pace via an online program called “Edgenuity.”

Teachers support students in that process with some small class instruction, and leaders known as “preceptors” work with teams of 12 to 20 students and are expected to get to know students and their families personally.

On average, students who start at Vertus are four years behind in reading and three to four years behind in math, White said. That is one of the reasons for making it a year-round school where students can not just make up lost ground, but get ahead, he said. He also argues an all-boys schools can better focus on meeting the needs of adolescent males.

Students have the opportunity to prepare for college but also are required to get a certificate in one of three career areas: health care, information technology or manufacturing, programs that are organized through agreements with other institutions such as Monroe Community College.

Vertus is one of two charter schools recruited to the city by E3 Rochester, a nonprofit focused on recruiting and encouraging high-quality public charter schools in Rochester.

The open house runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information is also available at EnrollVertus.com.
 
Follow Anne Saunders on Twitter: @asaunders_rbj

(c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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