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New Options Coming For Holyoke Students

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) – Students from ninth to twelfth graders in Holyoke, West Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, South Hadley, and Northampton will soon have a new choice for their education.

Come September, an old dress factory will be buzzing with students as 532 main street becomes the Paulo Friere Social Justice Charter School.

Founder Bob Brick feels the school will add to Holyoke’s revitalization. “Holyoke has had a long history of challenges especially around graduation rates and dropout rates, and teen pregnancy and those kinds of things,” he says.

Brick has over 35 years of experience in education. Most recently, he served as executive director of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley.

The curriculum of the Friere charter school is based on social justice – the idea that all students, regardless of race, income, culture, ability, or sexual orientation have an equal opportunity to a quality education.

An education that will extend far beyond their 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. schedule. Brick notes the school is offering a variety of resources not typically available to public school students. “We’re looking at afterschool and early evening mentoring programs. We’ve made partnerships with Hampshire College, Amherst College, University of Massachusetts in both Amherst and Boston, Springfield College to send in tutors, work one on one with our students.”

The school will enroll a maximum of 500 students.

Applications are due by March 12th. You can find them in both English and Spanish, on the school’s website.

No worries, Bob is not nervous for his first day of school. “I think I’ve done this too long to be nervous. I’ve taken a little break and I miss the kids.”

In case you’re wondering, the school is named for Paulo Friere, a Brazilian educator.