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New charter school in Centennial Hills welcomes K-5 students

An award-winning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school opened in Centennial Hills for the 2016-17 school year.

Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas, 7951 Deer Springs Way, is the academy’s first campus in the northwest and North Las Vegas area. Last month, the school welcomed 600 kindergarten through fifth-grade students for their first day of school.

“I’m really excited about starting a new school, building a culture from scratch and watching how everything grows and changes,” said the school’s principal, Emrullah Eraslan. “The teaching staff and school administrators have a wonderful energy that I know will help create a successful school.”

The school is a state-sponsored, tuition-free public charter school where students are admitted through a lottery system. Its mission is to provide a safe and rigorous college preparatory environment that promotes social responsibility and provides a culturally diverse community dedicated to creating lifelong learners bound for success, according to the school’s website, caslv.org.

Due to the school’s growing reputation, officials opened the Centennial Hills campus — in addition to a Nellis Air Force Base campus — to accommodate its waitlist of more than 4,000 families last year, said Candyce Farthing, Coral’s chief operations officer.

Since the school’s founding in 2007, it has won many awards. In 2014, the Washington Post listed it as one of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” and the most challenging school in Nevada. The rankings were based on the number of college-level tests given per student.

“As a mother, I can tell you that my kids grew leaps and bounds here,” Farthing said. “This school pushes kids to their highest potential by giving them advance classes and teachers who really engage with them.”

Part of that success is due to the fact that the school assesses every child in kindergarten and every new child that comes in to see where they are academically, she added.

Classrooms also have a 25-to-1 student-teacher ratio, and students have staggered start and dismissal times to avoid traffic issues.

The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which means it’s important for students to learn how to interact in a diverse environment.

How does the school rank in terms of diversity?

The school serves a student population with less diversity and fewer disadvantaged students. In 2014-15, less than one-fifth of its students were black or Hispanic. Only 6 percent qualified for free and reduced-priced lunch and only 4 percent identified as special education, according to a Feb. 16 Las Vegas Review-Journal article.

However, Farthing said the new campus reflects the Centennial Hills area’s demographics. At the northwest campus, 48 percent of the population is Caucasian, 16 percent is Hispanic, 12 percent is black, 11 percent is Asian, 11 percent is mixed, 1 percent is American Indian and 1 percent is Pacific Islander. In addition, 10 percent of the population are special needs students, she added.

The northwest campus replaced a former University of Phoenix building. Despite the recent additions, there are still 600 families on the waitlist.

School officials hope to one day offer up to eighth grade at the school, as well as open a North Las Vegas campus. But right now, they said they are making sure the two new campuses function properly.

“Ideally, we’d love to take in all of the kids on our waitlist, but we want to expand the right way, and that means not rushing into things,” Farthing said.

Call 702-685-4333.

To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email slopez@viewnews.com or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.

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