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New Charter Middle/High School to Soon Be Built in Clermont, Fla.

Wed February 10, 2021 - Southeast Edition
Leesburg Daily Commercial

Lake-Sumter State College's South Lake campus in Clermont, Fla., will be the site of the Pinecrest Lakes Academy Middle/High School. (Lake-Sumter State College rendering)
Lake-Sumter State College's South Lake campus in Clermont, Fla., will be the site of the Pinecrest Lakes Academy Middle/High School. (Lake-Sumter State College rendering)

Construction is expected to begin this year on Pinecrest Lakes Academy Middle/High School, a tuition-free public charter school on Lake Sumter State College's Clermont campus in Florida, according to an announcement from both schools. The ground lease agreement is part of a STEM education partnership.

While the LSSC's District Board of Trustees still must approve some agreements, LSSC spokesperson Kevin Yurasek said the likely grand opening will be in August 2022.

A total of 67 ninth-grade students are already attending classes on the college's campus on North Hancock Road, said Christina Alcalde, the principal of Pinecrest Lakes Academy.

"It's setting them up with that college mentality from the young grades and giving them the coursework needed to get into the best college and the best universities and pursue those careers,” she explained. "It creates a K-16 [through college] or even a K-life program.”

Pinecrest Lakes opened in Clermont, northwest of Orlando, as a K-8 school in 2017. It currently has 750 students enrolled in those grades at its location on Old FL Highway 50, Alcalde said.

Pinecrest Lakes Academy Middle/High School will welcome 10th graders for the 2021-22 school year and 11th graders in 2022-23. Its first senior class will graduate in 2024.

The charter school's connection to LSSC dates to more than a year ago when it joined the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy, according to Alcalde. That accelerated learning program involves a partnership between the college, Lake County Schools, Montverde Academy, the University of Central Florida and South Lake Hospital.

LSSC President Stan Sidor is excited about this new partnership's potential.

"Together, we will create pathways for secondary students to work toward credentials and college credit that will accelerate their degree completion and improve the health and wealth of our local economy,” Sidor said in a news release.

Pinecrest Lakes is part of Pinecrest Academy Inc., a network of charter schools in five counties in Florida and one in Nevada. Other locations in Lake County are in the Four Corners area of Clermont and in Tavares. Nearby Orange County has three schools affiliated with Pinecrest Academy.

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