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The City Journals

GOAL! Herriman scores a STEM high school

Jul 26, 2017 10:59AM ● By Jet Burnham

A rendering of the new Real SL Academy High School. (Ryan Marchant/Real SL Academy High School)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

There’s more to the new Real Salt Lake Academy High School than soccer.

“Any student can come, and they don’t have to play soccer,” said Academy Director Ryan Marchant. Of 300 enrolled students, only 50 spots are reserved for players who are part of Real U-18 soccer teams (25 for students relocating from the current Arizona training center/academy and the other 25 for local players). The majority of spots are open to any Utah resident, grades nine through 12.

“Our No. 1 priority is academics,” said Marchant. The curriculum’s emphasis is on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies.

Real Academy encourages students to choose their path of study and their pace of advancement through project-based learning, STEM curriculum, college preparatory classes and state-of-the-art online curriculum within a small, cohesive educational community,” said the school website. Students will have the option to choose a pathway of study, specializing in an area such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, or Sports Business.

The school’s mission statement explains how the academy is different than other high schools.

 “We believe it is essential for secondary students to understand they are in control of their educational experiences and their paths to successful futures.” Students will coordinate their classes in a blended learning model. They will use a combination of traditional classroom structure (with teachers in a classroom), online classes (accessed through Edgenuity) and workshop/lab style classes.

To create an even more personalized education, students will rely on competency-based learning. They will work at an individual rate and have the opportunity to adjust their classes according to their learning pace. Marchant explained that if a student proves they have learned the class material—through an online test—they can progress on to the next class without waiting for the end of the semester.

“This process would also have the potential of increasing students' options for specific pathways, concurrent enrollment and internships,” according to information on the school website.

Class offerings—in addition to core classes—will include art, choir, theater, dance and foreign language classes. Specialty classes such as robotics, electronics, engineering, debate, marketing, economics and computer programming, gaming and graphics, will be offered according to interest.

As unique as the academic programs are, the school will still provide students with an experience like any other public high school, said Marchant. Real Salt Lake Academy High School is a fully accredited high school that will have the traditional social and extracurricular activities.

The school will also have a Special Education classroom.

And of course there will be school sports. In addition to a school soccer team (independent from Real teams), there will be cross country, basketball and tennis teams.

The school building, located at 14750 South 3600 West in Herriman, has a 90-acre campus (mostly soccer fields, a stadium, housing and training centers for Real and Monarch teams). The school has 77,000 square feet of classroom space. The academy’s three-story building is designed with plenty of windows to bring in natural light. The bright red roof houses an array of solar panels, providing a renewable energy source for the school. Marchant said the goal is for the school to be energy neutral.

“It’s a really green building and also really high end and high tech,” said Marchant.

The academy will provide one-to-one technology, supplying each student with his or her own laptop. Marchant thinks students will be excited about the robotics lab and the technology available. There is also a workshop area, called a “Maker Space” where students can build and create projects. It will be stocked with 3-D printers, tools, supplies and other machinery.

Twenty-five faculty members will provide direction and support to students with an average class size of 25.

“It’s going to be a unique school, and we’re excited to partner with Real Salt Lake and offer this great service to the community,” said Marchant.

Orientations for interested students and parents are held every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. More information about the school and enrollment can be found at Admission is selected by lottery, which will be run every three weeks until the remaining spots are filled.