BY: Jessica Jones-Gorman. After receiving approval from the state Department of Education in November to promote an accelerated pathway to higher education, The Lois & Richard Nicotra Early College Charter School has announced plans to begin operations in July.
“The inaugural class of eighth and ninth graders will begin summer classes in temporary classroom trailers on the grounds of Corporate Commons One and will then move into the brand new, state of the art Corporate Commons Three which is currently under construction, opening in the Fall of 2019,” the organization said in a statement. “Students are being admitted now according to our lottery results which were announced this month.”
The school, which has pledged to provide equal educational opportunities for all students, including the economically disadvantaged, offers the opportunity to graduate from high school with a Regents Diploma and as many as 60 college credits from St. John’s University, the alma mater of both Richard and Lois Nicotra.
“We believe that education is the key to success, and we know that the key to Staten Island’s future is educational opportunity for all children,” Lois Nicotra noted. “We see the time and talent dedicated by the Integration Charter School team to the students in their current schools, Lavelle Preparatory Charter School and New Ventures. That gives us the confidence to lend our name to this new school.”
“This new school will provide a program that will bridge students to St. John’s University so they gain college credit while they are still in high school,” Richard Nicotra added. “St. John’s is our alma mater, and so this feels like a good fit on every level. Lois is a former school teacher and we have a special place in our hearts for the power of education.”
Nicotra Charter will serve grades eight through 12. In grades eight through 10, students will prepare for success within the college experience by taking rigorous prerequisite courses required for Regents diplomas and to prepare for college level academics. The early college component will begin as early as 11th grade, when students attend college courses for credit at St. John’s University.
“Earning that college credit greatly increases the likelihood of college graduation,” Nicotra said. “This will also significantly decrease the students’ higher education expense.”
The unique approach is built upon the premise of creating a path for college graduation for any interested students, including students with special needs and/or those who are economically disadvantaged. The accelerated pace of the pathway provides an option that is more economically feasible and manageable than a traditional pathway to higher education.
“The addition of Nicotra Charter to our network of innovative and integrated schools is an incredibly exciting milestone,” noted Ken Byalin, who serves as the school’s president. “We are now able to offer students and families on Staten Island this unique opportunity that can help them to fulfill their academic goals of succeeding in and graduating from college, including those with emotional and other challenges. We are deeply grateful to Lois and Richard Nicotra, our school’s namesakes, for their generous support and shared belief in our mission.”