Photo courtesy of School of Dreams Academy
Back to School
School of Dreams Academy will be expanding its Career Technical Education program, offering students the opportunity to be certified in several areas in which the school already offers classes, such as computer technology, agriculture and vet sciences.
Through community action grants from Meta, SODA was also able to build up its STEM research lab with 3D printers, raspberry pis and many other instruments to help teach students of all ages with hands-on projects and experiments.
SODA Superintendent Michael Ogas said the lab is on track to be a mainstay and large draw for the overall campus.
One of the largest changes for the school going into the new school year is the synchronization of schedules between primary and secondary programs on campus. Now, all grades will be beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the final bell ringing at 3:30 p.m.
“We are all about wanting to be one school, not two schools in one building, so we are making a concerted effort to make that happen by starting everybody at the same time — all the students and staff,” Ogas said.
The schedule synchronization comes with a consolidation of bus schedules — primary and secondary students riding the same buses. Ogas said combining the routes has worked well in other small school districts across the country, but the school still invested in an extra attendant on each bus to alleviate any concerns of parents.
In another increase to security on campus, SODA also installed a new security system, Raptor, which will conduct quick background checks on all visitors wanting to enter the campus and people picking up their students early from class.
“It’s just an additional layer of security,” Ogas said. “It’s really kind of cool, it’s very… we’re going to be using it to check out check-ins, check-outs and visitors on campus, as well as alerts for anything from fire drills to active shooter on campus. All of those things we need to be aware of nowadays.”
The Raptor security system also connects to teachers’ phones through an app, automating alerts for campus exercises or emergencies like fire drills or a critical incident on campus.
Two additional security personnel have also been hired at SODA ahead of the new school year.
While the pandemic brought some enrollment drops to other schools within the county, SODA saw a large increase in students with Ogas estimating about 600 this school year. He also said the school’s pre-K program saw an increase of enrollment from less than 10 students at the program’s start four years ago to upwards of 90 this year.
The first day of classes for grades first through 12th at SODA is Thursday, Aug. 4. Pre-k and kindergarten classes start Monday, Aug. 15.
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.