Gulfport's newest school ready to open next week

Thursday was orientation day at Hope Academy. (Image source: WLOX News.)
Thursday was orientation day at Hope Academy. (Image source: WLOX News.)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Next Monday will mean a fresh start for a private school in Gulfport. Hope Academy will open its doors for the first time. On Thursday, the school held an orientation and open house for all the parents and students. The administrators and parents believe the school's mission and curriculum are quite different.

A happy dance helped launch the theme for the new private school; Hope for the Future at Hope Academy.

"We wanted it to be a day of celebration, a day of celebration for the future of our students," said Hope Academy Principal Kim Raulston. "I'm very excited. I'm very happy, and we just look forward to a great first year at Hope Academy."

Hope Academy may look familiar. It was once home to Westminster Academy, which closed last May after 45 years of educating children. Some of the teachers at Westminster returned, and so did many of the students.

"I was sad that Westminster and the tradition there was closing, but we're celebrating today. We have a new start, a new beginning. New beginnings are a little scary sometimes, but they're exciting," said PTA President Alison Felsher.

Administrators said they developed their own curriculum that is not tied to Common Core, along with programs that promote art, music and foreign language.

"To be the greatest, strongest fine arts, math and science school anywhere on the Gulf Coast, that is our goal and vision," said Raulston.

That's why Lakeisha Patton enrolled her 4-year-old daughter, Anaiia, in the pre-k program.

"They're focusing a lot on education, along with fine arts, and that was one of the things that brought me here," said Patton. "I know she's going to be well educated here, and she's going to be versatile when they incorporate the fine arts into the curriculum."

The campus on Lawson Avenue is just a temporary home for Hope Academy. Later this month, construction is scheduled to start on the new Hope Academy. The 13,000 square foot building will go up on 16 acres of land at Florence Gardens, just off O'Neal Road.

"I'm so excited to have the opportunity to be the first Principal of Hope Academy, and also to lead this school as we move into the new facility and as we grow and as we watch our children grow," said Raulston.

More than 50 students are currently enrolled at Hope Academy. The school is for pre k-2 through second grade. Administrators said more grades will be added once the new school opens next year, and it will eventually become a k-12 school.

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