Virtual graduations and many where students dressed in their cap and gown accepted their diploma as parents painted their names and class year on car windshields was over.
At Century Academy For Excellence (CAFE) school administrators were bracing for the bad news that Lennox school board have voted to revoke its charter thus eventually closing the school down for good.
However, just days removed from the gut wrenching decision by Lennox, operator Dr. Lisa Edwards and principal Dr. Stephany Glover were fully engaged at the school located in Inglewood.
A signed read accepting applications, and on this day there would be one happy applicant to enroll in the school.
David Groce, the dean and boys basketball coach, has been at the school for the past five years, before Edwards took over the school.
Groce set up shop on the outdoor basketball courts at the former church transformed into a school and greeted the new applicant while also entertaining a trio of former students who were two years removed from graduation.
It was not unusual for students to return to the school especially since Edwards and her sister Glover changed the culture into a more family environment.
“Before, I would say that the school really didn’t have any culture,” Groce told Inglewood Today. “Education wise it was good, but the kids really wasn’t having any fun and identify with the community.”
He said that once Dr. Glover and Dr. Edwards arrived, they changed the whole culture.
“Kids start having fun and they brought in a new technology with kids learning with the computer,” Groce added.
The school’s football coach Kenneth Patterson echoed Groce.
“With this school, pretty much the students and the staff is like a family,” said Patterson.
A former student such as Daniel Shelton who is going into the 10th grade at Inglewood was one of those who return.
“At this school a big part of being able to play sports is academics, so that carries over to high school, college and all that. You can play sports al you life, but what if you get injured and you don’t have anything to fall back on? So education is a big thing of life. Your body is eventually going to break down but your mind is not that why you see a lot of players like Richard Sherman who went to Stanford,” Shelton said.
For them, especially since COVID-19, is was refreshing to get out of the house and into an open space such as the playground and Century Academy has always been that safe haven for them.
Groce feels that Century Academy doesn’t not get the support that it deserves from the district.
“They are just on the outside looking in. They don’t really come up here to see what we do at Century Academy. They don’t see that the students are coming back on a weekday while we are having COVID or things like that. It’s a family group, its more than for the school, its for the community.”