By Sharon Still

As the new school year kicks off, Brandon Academy’s first high school class is making way to its classrooms. The fall 2015 school year marks an exciting time for the private school as a goal that has been in place for the past 21 years comes to fruition.

“We will open ninth grade this year and add a grade every year until we have ninth through twelfth in four years,” said Brandon Academy Head of School Robert Rudolph.

Established in 1970, Brandon Academy, the only school in the area accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools, serves a need in the community for a school without a religious affiliation. Brandon Academy enrolls students in grades PreK3 through eighth grade and has a faculty-student ratio of 11:1.

“We added this high school due to an outcry from our own former eighth grade graduates,” explained Rudolph. “So often, they regretted having to leave and wanted Brandon Academy to offer high school.” The high school is an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, of which there are only a few throughout all of Hillsborough County.

Principal Karen St. John has experience in both IB curriculum as well as helping to get two prior high schools off the ground from the very beginning.

“She is the perfect person to start a brand new IB High School,” Rudolph commented.

In addition to the new classroom building located on the northeast portion of the campus, a new gymnasium/student center is expected to be complete soon after the start of the school year. The gymnasium/student center is a separate building and will have all of the things needed to enhance students’ experiences including basketball goals, volleyball nets, a stage for theatrical and musical productions, space for physical education classes, room for inside recess, a gathering place for our school community, graduations, ceremonies and more.

“The potential is endless,” he said.

“Since I have been at Brandon Academy since 1995, the two biggest needs have been a gym and a high school and now both are coming true in the very same year. We could not be more excited,” Rudolph stated.

Brandon Academy Private School is located at 801 Limona Rd. For more information, visit www.brandon-academy.com or call 689-1952.