Highlights from the Monday, Dec. 10 meeting of the Royal Palm Beach Education Advisory Board included a community briefing on Western Academy Charter School and the announcement that Royal Palm Beach High School Principal Dr. Jesús Armas had received a prestigious honor.
The announcement was made by Central Region Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriguez.
“I am very pleased to have some big news. Dr. Jesús Armas has been named as the School District of Palm Beach County Adult Education Principal of the Year,” he said, explaining how at the annual Adult and Community Education Luncheon on Dec. 7, Armas was presented with the Award for Excellence by the school district and Palm Beach County assistant principals.
Palm Beach County School Board Member Marcia Andrews congratulated Armas, as did Education Advisory Board Chair Dr. Bill Thallemer and the entire board.
In his 13th year as a principal, Armas has held the top post at Royal Palm Beach High School for the last nine years. Armas has a long history with adult and community education. Here in Palm Beach County, he worked closely with adult school programs at Suncoast High School and Jupiter High School in his role as activities and athletic director. As an assistant principal, Armas was instrumental in the inception of the night school program at Seminole Ridge High School.
Armas praised Royal Palm Beach High School’s adult education program.
“Our night school program helps to further our vision of excellence,” he said. “Whether it’s GED classes for adults looking to earn a high school diploma, ESOL classes for adults looking to learn how to speak English, or yoga classes for our community members, our night school program has helped make Royal Palm Beach High School a part of the fabric of this community.”
But if a student wants to take courses in botany, introduction to paleontology, or perhaps jumpstart a Broadway career, then Western Academy Charter School is worth a look.
Assistant Principal Jessica Manriquez told the story of how in 2003, Western Academy Charter School officially began its operation as a not-for-profit and has grown into Royal Palm Beach’s largest charter school with 515 students in grades K-8.
“We have been an ‘A’ rated school since 2006 and a Five Star School since 2010,” Manriquez said, as she briefed the community on the school’s continuing success.
Western Academy was designed as an innovative alternative to traditional public school education. The board was entertained by the school’s impressive show choir. The choir treated the audience to a few entertaining song and dance numbers, led by music teacher Kelley Hubbard. The choir performs around the community, most recently at Royal Palm Beach’s Winterfest.
Manriquez is very pleased with the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Academy. Highlights include a fossil collection trip to the Peace River as a field trip for paleontology students and various engineering competitions, including one last week where students were required to build “Rube Goldberg contraptions.”
The school does very well on standardized testing. “We are really proud that last year, we beat the district and state average test scores for every grade and for every subject,” Manriquez said.
Also, at the meeting, Andrews again thanked the community for approving new school board funding by voting in favor of the recent countywide referendum.
“These funds will not only allow us to increase safety and mental health services for students, but will allow us to continue arts, music and a high level of academics,” she said.