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First day of school for Discovery Charter School

Greece, N.Y. -- The calendar may say August 19, but it was the first day of school for students at the Discovery Charter School in Greece.

The school has a new home. They are renting the former Greece Odyssey building on Hoover Drive.

220 students in grades kindergarten through fourth attend the school. This is the third year for the program.

The school not only has a longer year, an additional 15 days, but they also have an extended school day. Students are in school two hours longer.

But there are challenges. 96 percent of the students live in poverty. Some have parents in prison or come from abusive homes. That's why teachers must first address students' social needs, to remove any obstacles for learning.

Students eat breakfast together after arriving at school and then spend an hour each day writing.

School Director Joe Saia said the goal is to mitigate the affects of poverty and give students what they need to learn.

You won't find any complaints about the longer school year or day from students or teachers.

Jessica Cordova grew up in Greece and is now teaching second grade at the charter school.

She said it's like coming home. Cordova said kids need to feel safe and cannot learn if they are hungry. So she makes sure to first address those needs, before teaching students other lessons they need to know.

Student performance has improved, though some grades are still lagging on state tests, Saia said the school is outperforming others with high poverty rates.

There are no worries here about what to wear on the first day of school or any other day.

There is a dress code. Students wear blue tops and bottoms. It makes it easier to get ready in the morning.

Next year the charter school will add a fifth grade, and the following, will also add a sixth grade.

Parents would love to see the charter continue through upper grade levels, but that is something that would need the approval of the board.

Director Joe Saia said charter schools aren't competing with traditional ones. They are both working in the same direction, trying to reach as many students as possible and give them what they need to succeed and learn.

 
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