The Da’ok Academy is expecting 23 students to complete all the required credits by the end of this school year.
In an interview with newly-appointed principal Jonathan Aguon, he and his staff have identified a total of 23 students who will complete their required courses per the Public School Systems’ curriculum.
Of the 23 students, some are returning students to the academy and the rest are those who’ve decided to transfer. He expects this year’s graduation numbers to be higher than last school year’s 14 graduates.
Aguon said his goal as a principal is to remove all the stigma and public misconceptions behind the academy, since the academy was formed from the previously incorporated Alternative Education program.
Aguon said the most common misconception about the Da’ok Academy is that it serves as a “dumping group for juvenile students.” He believes that the academy is for students who need a learning environment that is different from a traditional classroom setting in order to succeed academically and become productive citizens.
When asked about the difference that the academy provides, he said that each class has a total of 10 students, and that with this setting, instructors can give each student the sufficient amount of time needed, compared to the usual 25 to 30 students in a regular classroom.
Another advantage the academy provides is the partnership between them and the Northern Marianas Technical Institute. Aguon said that about 16 students are currently taking classes with NMTI and he commends the opportunities that the students are checking to see whether they should have sought collegiate careers or joined the trades industry.
Aguon added that they work closely with agencies such as the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program and the Community Guidance Center for providing mental health awareness, as this is also an important aspect in building better citizens for the future. He said they have an assigned counselor for the academy to also provide intervention for the students, if needed.
There is also a misconception that the Da’ok Academy only provides general education diplomas. He said the academy is accredited under PSS and all the diplomas that the students will receive after completing classes are exactly the same as those who graduate from any PSS high school. He said that each student is required to complete the graduation requirements, which is to complete a total of 28 credits.
Aguon said that Da’ok Academy has 42 students enrolled this school year, and has five teaching staff members. Da’ok Academy is supported through a federal grant program that promotes and develops students’ reading and math skills.
He said the usual process of students transitioning to the academy would be that the respective PSS high schools would transfer the student or if the student requests to be transferred to the academy.