A promise realized, Independence Nontraditional School ready for opening
Posted on 08/27/2018
Picture of ribbon-cutting

Doors opened today at the newest school in Prince William County, Independence Nontraditional School, where the fragrance of fresh paint pervades the air and brilliantly colored wall murals of wolves in imaginative settings astound the visitor. The school’s mascot is symbolic of lone wolves joining the pack, finding strength and resilience, and using their intellect and ingenuity in service of others.

The state-of-the-art school combines the former New Directions and New Dominion Alternative Education Centers, as well as PACE East, providing all students with greater access to courses and Division resources.

Independence Nontraditional School gives students from kindergarten through grade 12 who thrive in small settings, and face other challenges, an environment in which they can succeed. The school offers Advanced Placement®, robotics, music, and dual enrollment. Instruction is geared to meet the individual needs of students and help remove barriers to academic and social progress.

A host of dignitaries from the federal to the local level, school officials, and community members celebrated with a ribbon-cutting on August 23. The ribbon-cutting followed a reception dedicated to the memory of Dr. Renée Lacey, director of the office of student management and alternative programs. The school’s media learning center is named for Lacey, a strong advocate for nontraditional opportunities who believed “that not every student fits into the same box.”

“The ribbon-cutting was a magical event because of the presence and leadership of our past and current students,” said Principal Robert Eichorn. “They led the evening and made it truly memorable.”

“It’s very inspirational to see former students come and speak about their experiences as nontraditional learners and the opportunities they had,” said Hope Barbour, social studies teacher. “This bravery says a lot.”

“The nontraditional approach to learning allows students to re-set their life,” Superintendent Dr. Steve Walts said. “All those who believe that every student has potential, and that every student is valued, share my enthusiasm about Independence Nontraditional School.”

Kourtney Dean, a 2014 graduate of New Directions Alternative Center, described in her remarks how wolf packs move, with weaker ones at the front, then stronger ones, followed at the end by the leader. The leader keeps the pack on the same path and is ready to run in any direction to defend the pack and be the protector of all.

“This is how nontraditional education works,” Dean said. “Everyone is supported, everyone plays a role, and most importantly, no one is ever left behind.”