New valley charter school welcomes students in person for first time

Back To School

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As Clark County School District students prepare to head back to class on Monday, other kids have already started.

New charter school Explore Academy near Lone Mountain and Rancho opened during the pandemic. It welcomed students back in person for the first time Thursday.

“I like that we can actually be back to in-person school,” ninth-grader Dereon Smith told 8 News Now. “It’s much better because I can actually talk to my friends.”

More than 300 students walked through the doors of Explore Academy, abuzz with excitement.

Seventh-grader Jordynn Thomas said, “I’m feeling excited because I get to see my friends in person, but I’m also feeling pretty nervous because I have to get adjusted to middle school.”

“I’m quite excited to go into high school,” Smith shared. “It’s a new experience. It seems quite fun.”

It was the official first day for teachers, as well, since the pandemic kept them from campus and their students.

“It’s like the energy is through the roof,” described P.E. teacher Corby Chaney.

He tells us there’s a sense of relief that students can attend in person.

“They’re really excited to learn, which is really cool, compared to different years,” Chaney said. “Before the pandemic, it wasn’t the same. This is a whole new feel.”

While everyone is happy to be back on campus, their permanent school location is still under construction. Material shortages and permit delays are keeping Explore Academy at a temporary spot through the first term.

“It’s like one challenge after another. One struggle,” said Chaney. “But we are getting through it. We are very resilient.”

Although the start of the year is coinciding with an increase in cases and restrictions, Chaney expresses they’re grateful to be back with their students.

“Teaching virtually had a tremendous amount of challenges,” he said. “So, being back here in school, it just feels like we’re where we should be.”

Explore Academy currently teaches grades six through 10. They hope to expand to twelfth grade in the coming years.

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