By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The first charter school in town is getting closer to opening day.
The Next Charter School will open its doors in August, bringing a new, personalized way of educating high school students to Derry.
School co-directors Justin Krieger and Joe Crawford provided updates to the School Board recently, both saying they were excited and looking forward to what Next would offer students in an alternative high school setting.
The first class is filled with 30 students chosen in a lottery from 52 applicants.
The school will be located in the former Derry Early Education Program space at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.
Charter schools are public institutions operating under a board of trustees. The schools offer a nontraditional education for students who may need an alternative for their high school years.
Krieger and Crawford, both middle school assistant principals in the Derry district, first presented the charter school plan to the public last year. Residents then cast ballots in a nonbinding vote and supported the charter school plan.
The two will lead the school with a staff including two teachers, an administrative assistant and two other positions that will be filled through one-year AmeriCorps positions.
Students making up that first Next class spoke to the School Board about their experiences and what they were looking forward to as a member of the Next family. One of those, Molly Anderson, said she wasn’t successful in her present school environment.
Molly currently attends Gilbert H. Hood Middle School and said she is looking forward to the individual attention. She said Next would be a better fit.
“One of the main reasons I want to go to Next is that I have Asperger’s Syndrome,” she said. “I don’t like crowded areas and I can’t focus.”
Kriefer said Next will personalize the educational journey for students like Molly — those needing a different approach to learning other than the traditional route.
“Students will carve out their own paths to high school graduation,” he said.
School Board Chairman Brenda Willis said she was excited to see the Next school finally ready to open and thanked both Kreiger and Crawford for their hard work.
“You guys have been amazing,” she said. “I knew from the start you would be successful. I’ve seen the growth in you and also the growth of the students. I can’t wait until your first graduating class.”
To find out more about Next, visit nextcharterschool.org.