Second Chance Academy, Ardmore City Schools’ academic program for students who’ve been suspended, is moving to a new location for this upcoming school year.
The program serves 6th through 12th grade students, most of whom were suspended for disciplinary reasons. The program also serves students with medical issues that prevent them from attending school. Second Chance Director Terry Upshaw said for the last five years, Second Chance has served roughly 100 students a year.
“A lot of the students we serve have very diverse needs and concerns they come with,” Upshaw said. “When students are out of school, it’s very difficult for them to maintain progress academically.”
The program is moving from the Charles Evans Elementary School campus to a portable building  near the district’s administration offices, which used to house University Center of Southern Oklahoma classes. Superintendent Kim Holland said the center gave the building to the school district. The portable is currently being renovated.
“We feel like these will be nicer,” Holland said.
When the program started in the summer of 2012, it was housed at First Christian Church in Ardmore.
“It worked really well,” Upshaw said. “The church was just so accommodating and amazing in the way they supported us.”
The building was a good fit, but didn’t meet the building specifications a school needs according to law. The program moved to Charles Evans in what was supposed to be a temporary move and stayed there for the next several years.
“Being here will be much more suitable,” Upshaw said. “The people at Charles Evans were very supportive, but that setting was far from ideal. Coming here will be better.”
Regina Benson, a behavior interventionist with the district, and teacher Leslie Ragland are joining the program.
“We do most of our instruction online,” Upshaw said. “We try to match the classes they had in the regular school setting as much as we can.”
While Second Chance works closely with Take Two Academy, the alt-ed academy that serves Carter County, the two ultimately serve different purposes. Take Two is more geared toward students who are struggling and falling behind academically and need to recover course credits. Second Chance’s goal is to get students back into the classroom after their suspension. Both programs take a trauma sensitive approach.
“We see the impact of trauma in the lives of young people now,” Upshaw said. “And we see behaviors we didn’t recognize before. So often, these young people demonstrate behaviors that are difficult to understand. We’re recognizing trauma has a much more significant impact on the lives of young people.”
Upshaw said the program ultimately gives students a chance to recover from mistakes, instead of setting them back even further.
“Their punishment was the suspension,” Upshaw said. “Coming to Second Chance is the opportunity to rebuild themselves.”