LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– Being surrounded by only female peers is a new concept for many of the students at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, but as they wrap up their first week many are realizing it is exactly what they needed to succeed.
The Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Las Vegas opened its doors for the first time earlier this week near Flamingo and Harmon.
Every morning Principal Whitney McIntosh gathers the sixth and ninth graders in a circle.
“We use circles because circles are a shape that isn’t easily broken,” said McIntosh.
In that unbroken circle, goals for the day are discussed to let the students know that together they have what it takes to achieve them.
“We focus on academics, we focus on ourselves, and then we also provide them opportunities to advocate,” said McIntosh.
The Young Women’s Leadership Academy is located on the east side of town, where opportunities are limited for many.
“We are trying to make sure we tear down any barrier, so students receive the access that they need,” said McIntosh.
It starts by giving the students a voice, that is heard.
“I realized I can actually talk up and I can actually be more present in class, I had a class last year that I didn’t even talk in because I was so scared,” said ninth-grader Jane Warren.
“I feel like we can all make a difference one day doing something amazing,” said ninth-grader Eliana Rodriguez.
The school has a rich history, the founder Ann Tisch started the network of The Young Women’s Leadership School also known as “TYWLS” in 1996.
TYWLS of East Harlem, New York was the first to open, followed by several schools throughout the city.
Including TYWLS of Astoria, where reporter Victoria Saha and her twin sister were part of the first graduating class in 2013.
“I think the whole girl education model, paying attention to the young women and making sure it’s not just academics that makes them successful but also a community of support and sisterhood,” said McIntosh.
Although graduation day may seem far away, McIntosh is already dreaming big for her scholars.
“Having a direction of knowing where they want to go and making sure every one of them has access to college and that they have a definite path and a community of support,” McIntosh said.
With their college-bound initiative, nearly 100 percent of students attending TYWLS will attend college.
YWLA of Las Vegas is currently enrolling 50 more students, all year long and you do not have to live on the east side of the valley to attend.