High school to open next month inside Circle Centre Mall

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 14, 2015) — An alternative high school inside Circle Centre Mall downtown is now accepting applications.

The arcade, the movie theater and shopping are all reasons to go to the mall in downtown Indianapolis. Now, you can add “going to high school” to that list.

The Simon Youth Academy at Circle Centre is scheduled to open on October 20. The new Indianapolis Public Schools option is being constructed in a space across from the movie theater and will hold around 60 high school juniors and seniors.

Michael Durnil, CEO of Simon Youth Academy, gave CBS4 a tour of the space, which will feature an open concept with four classroom spaces, a lunch room, computer equipment and a photo studio for a specialized commercial photography and digital marketing program.

“We don’t dictate curriculum. We create the space, get out of the way and let the professionals do what they know how to do best,” Durnil said.

IPS will employ the teachers and staff, along with recruiting students. The school is an accelerated program that offers a flexible schedule and targets students at risk of dropping out or in unique situations that are not suited to traditional high school life. They’ll be offered internships inside the mall and other unique opportunities.

“We know that there are models that are out there that right now aren’t working for students so we’re trying to find something that’s different,” school coordinator Teresa James-Robinson said.

If you think a mall is an unusual place to put a school and more likely to give students the opportunity to skip class, Durnil said the statistics actually show the opposite. This will be Simon’s 27th school inside one of its malls and he pointed to a 90% graduation rate nationwide.

“Some of our first customers in a mall were kids playing hooky so why not take that and turn it on its head and provide an academic environment?” Durnil said.

Students can apply from any Indianapolis district, though transportation will only be offered within IPS boundaries. If you’re interested in signing up, go to the link here.

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