Tempe school a haven for disadvantaged students
Perhaps resiliency sets apart students at Children First Academy in Tempe from those at other schools.It’s not their homelessness or haphazard living conditions.
It’s not the clothes they get from the school. And it’s not the buses without air-conditioning they ride from Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix.
“Honestly, if you walked in here, you wouldn’t know what they were going through outside of here,” said Principal Jevon Lewis.
The school’s 218 students, however, face a host of hurdles.
Families live with other families because they cannot afford their own places. They don’t have clothes, toiletries, even running water. They may not have birth certificates, immunization records or transcripts from past schools.
This is the first year the school is teaching eighth-graders in addition to kindergarten through seventh grade. They meet at the school, 1938 E. Apache Blvd., near Loop 101, in portable classrooms donated by the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation.
Angelica Apoian, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, said she “had no idea” where she’d be going to school if Children First Academy had not expanded to eighth grade.
“When we started here, I had just come out of a shelter,” Angelica said. “I was in fifth grade.”