Recently Excel Academy South student Shyhief Jackson spoke from the heart when he addressed the Board for the School District of Philadelphia. Calling the experience “very surreal”, Jackson, 18, said speaking at the public meeting provided him with an occasion to use some of the skills he’s learned while at Excel.

“It gave me an opportunity to represent myself, my community, and my family,” said Jackson. “I was able to give a message to the Board and that was an opportunity I never had before.”

Speaking in front of about 40 people, with others joining the meeting virtually, Jackson shared his experiences and those of his peers at Excel. He told the crowd how he appreciates the staff, the classroom environment and the peace of mind he has coming to school at Excel Academy South.

“Kids don’t fall through the cracks at Excel,” he said. After he finishes high school this month, Jackson plans to pursue a trade and perhaps a college degree. Ideally, he would like to work in construction or make computers.

Excel Academy South offers an accelerated high school experience for students looking for a smaller, more personal setting, intensely focused on elevating social skills, emotional wellness, and academic success. The program offers an extended day, where students can earn up to 5 credits per semester and 10 credits per year, allowing students to graduate in 2.5 years or less.

“It is great recognition to hear from a student that our school is changing the game for him,” said Excel Academy South Principal Arielle Sosland. “It is meaningful having a student have a seat at the table and speak to the Board. One of our focuses at Excel is having our students have a voice. Shyief’s experience speaking at Board meeting is important to the work we do at the school.”

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