Phoenix Alternative Program set for transformation into brand new Hope Academy

Published 11:44 pm Saturday, September 13, 2014

After years of failed attempts to expand, Phoenix Alternative Program is in the final stages of its transformation to Hope Academy.

In response to an invite from the Selma City School Board, District Judge Bob Armstrong visited the Selma City School work session Thursday to introduce the Phoenix Alternative School expansion he has envisioned for years.

During his presentation, he explained how the Selma City School System, Special Program of Achieving Network and the Compass program plan to combine behavioral adjustment services to create Hope Academy.

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“The vision of Hope Academy is to provide vision for our kids,” Armstrong said. “When you give vision, that spawns hope and hope is a catalyst for the future.”

Ran by Armstrong, Compass Academy is a grant-funded, after-school diversion program in which counselors offer group therapy, life skills, community service opportunities trips and other behavioral rehabilitation methods to troubled kids.

SPAN is a separate Alabama District of Youth Services-funded program geared toward to troubled youth find an outlet to succeed academically and socially.

Phoenix Alternative Program works to improve inappropriate behavior for Selma City School students.

All three groups will operate under the same roof and share services, a vision that has failed to blossom under the leadership of three former Selma City School superintendents.

Armstrong was bursting with excitement as he talked about how the collaboration could make huge changes for the community.

“I’m thinking we can help the school system, reduce juvenile crime and help our kids if we a killer program,” Armstrong said. “I thank the system for letting us implement it and giving us a chance to do something really progressing and awesome for our kids.”

The City School System, Compass Academy and SPAN have contributed money and physical labor to building renovations, such as repainting, removing the chain-link fence, adding brick columns and building a grand sign that will display to the outside world the Hope Academy name and list the groups that made the expansion possible.

“The difference in the atmosphere and the appearance at the alternative school is absolutely jaw-dropping,” Armstrong said.

All Selma City School Board members agreed that program was best for all involved.

“Thank you,” board member Brenda Obomanu said. “We’ve been waiting on you for a long time. Thank you for finally getting this started.”

The estimated date of completion hasn’t been determined, according to Acting Selma Superintendent of Education Larry DiChiara.

In other news, the regularly scheduled Selma City School work session, originally planned Thursday, Oct. 2, was moved to Tuesday, Oct. 7.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of DiChiara’s recommendation to change the date, since the Selma High Training Table event is also held that night. Obomanu said she voted against rescheduling, because she was afraid it would become a habit.