Downtown to get new charter school

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May 31, 2004 // UPDATED 1:48 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

A new charter high school designed for immigrant and refugee youth will open Downtown in September.

The Lighthouse Academy will operate in the Baker Building, 706 2nd Ave. S., and serve primarily East African, Latino and Hmong students, said Tsultim Tsagong, a board member. The school will focus on helping students excel academically, learn English at an accelerated rate, pursue post-secondary education and become responsible world citizens.

The school will enroll 100 students in the first year, focusing on grades 9 and 10 but also accepting students in the upper grades, Tsagong said. "We are aggressively recruiting students."

Parents of prospective students can meet board members and staff at open houses set for Thursday, June 3 and June 10, 6-8 p.m. at the Baker Building.

The majority of Lighthouse Academy's board and staff were refugees or children of refugees.

Six former teachers and administrators from Abraham Lincoln High School, 2309 Nicollet Ave. S. and David Roffers, dean of St. Thomas University's School of Education, helped start the program, Tsagong said. Roffers is board chairman.

The school will have an initial budget of $1.3 million, Tsagong said. The James Ford Bell Foundation is sponsoring it, and the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches will offer a range of nonsectarian services and support to students' families.

The school will have seven teachers, two counselors, an administrator and support staff.

The Lighthouse Academy curriculum includes a community service requirement, a news release said. The Downtown location will help immerse students in mainstream culture. They will benefit from business mentors and St. Thomas University volunteer students.

For more information, contact Lighthouse Academy on the Web at, call 276-1509 or write to P.O. Box 8005 Minneapolis, MN 55408.