Confluence Connect 2018/2019

The Confluence Connect is the official newsletter of Confluence Academies' five charter schools. In addition to publishing online, printed copies are available to families at each of the schools. 
Confluence Connect - Spring 2019
Confluence Academies and Harris-Stowe State University, College of Education announced a
new partnership called “Grow Your Own.” The initiative enables high school students at
Confluence Academies to earn college credit while they obtain a high school diploma and is
designed for students interested in pursuing a college undergraduate degree in education. In
addition to these college credits, preparation for state certifications and other resource tools
will be made available for Confluence Academies 9th-12th graders.

“One of our most important values is building community partnerships that strengthen our
students and prepare them to lead productive and fulfilling lives, and at the same time
strengthen our community,” said Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Academies.
Dr. Carter-Oliver noted that even as the school’s academic performance has improved for the
fifth straight year (2018), success is measured in more than numbers. “Confluence Academies is
a student- and community-focused network of schools. We know there is an important link
between the success of our students and the strength of our communities—we are deeply
committed to both.”

“I am excited about the promise that the Harris-Stowe State University and Confluence
Academies partnership holds in producing more diverse educators to the St. Louis region and
beyond. The ‘Grow Your Own’ concept is an excellent investment that will pay great dividends,”
said Dr. Dwyane Smith, Provost at Harris-Stowe State University.

The dual enrollment program will be effective at the start of the 2019-2020 school year at
Confluence Academies. Students interested in “Grow Your Own” should contact Confluence
Academies at 314-588-8554.


The end of any school year is typically a time for reflection. The 2019 school year at Confluence Academies is no exception. As students prepare for a summer of learning, fun, and excitement, many Confluence students will have ample opportunities to extend their academic pursuits here within our schools and through community partnerships. We are pleased to see our continual progress in providing summer learning opportunities that benefit students from elementary grades through high school.


As teachers and staff store classroom materials, technology, and other supplies, many of us will take advantage of professional development offerings, advanced course study, and spend time with family and friends. In short, we all have the next couple of months to look forward to. 

At this juncture, I want to acknowledge the hard work and commitment that I have observed over the past two and a half years. Advances in teacher and learning, technology, safety, and facilities can be seen at all schools throughout the network, and I look forward to even more improvement in the near future. 

I also want to express my genuine appreciation to you – our school leaders, teachers, and other school-based staff as well as to all support staff in our network – for your work every day to improve the prospects of our students for better lives and greater achievement. You understand the value of your efforts and believe that our children deserve your very best. Your dedication and commitment does not go unnoticed. Take care and have a refreshing, restful summer.


Confluence Updates


Ninety students, grades third-fifth, were invited to an afternoon at the Cardinals game to celebrate those who scored proficient or advanced on the spring 2018 MAP Test. We are proud of the students and want to celebrate them as they get ready to take the MAP test at the end of April! 



The Muny announced auditions for Kids and Teens will be held at GCAA next year. 


The GCAA high school Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Ms. Ginnifer Brown, competed in the district large ensemble competition in April. The group received a two, which is an “excellent” rating and the second highest possible.



Former State Representative and Community activist Mrs. Betty Thompson spoke to Ms. Vanetta Clarks students at Aspire Academy last month about her new book “Rising Above the Battle Scars: If You Can Take It In Life, You Can Make It.”



Confluence Athletics


South City Basketball


Girls A and B teams celebrated a 1st and 2nd place sweep in the Confluence South City Winter Tournament. Team: 11 - Shar’male Atkins, 21 - Makayla Brown, 2 - Kyah Campbell, 20 - Na’Kiya Cooper, 22 - MacKayla Fields, 1 - Zhariya Gunn, 12 - Chelcey Jones, 10 - Tia Leonard, 13 - Maria Maldonado-Meza, 5 - Aaliyah Reed, 15 - Natalia Roberts, 4 - Amiya Torrence, 25 - Meiyah Tubbs. Head Coach Kelly Kozlen and Asst. Coach Jessica Arnold

South City Soccer



Boys soccer at South City Academy went undefeated in their inaugural season (5-0). Team: 2 - Eric Escamilla, 7 - Efrain Flores, 17 - Eric Gadea, 5 - Oliver Garcia, 3 - Abel Lopez, 19 - Jhony Mendoza-Capis, 10 - Jesus Morales, 12 - Julio Peero, 8 - DeAndre Reed, 11 - Alejandro Reyes, 16 - Francisco Reyes, 12 - Chris Romero, 15 - Sergio Sanchez, 20 - Jamie Soreque, 9 - Brandon Sosa, 4 - Raheem Tambadou, 14 - Alex Vanegas, 19 - Gabriel Solano, 6 - Jeferson Galeas. Head Coach Kelly Kozlen and Asst. Coach Ashley Peters 


Old North Runners


Students from Old North Academy joined KMOV’s Laura Hettiger for Laura’s Run 4 Kids to help the Little Bit Foundation raise money to help children around the region. Congratulations to our students who ran the competitive 5k.



Student Profiles

Jayla Dora



Congratulations to Jayla Dora, a 2019 Scholar Athlete and CPA senior! Every year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Scholar Athlete program honors a senior from every St. Louis-area school who has excelled in athletics and in the classroom. In addition to being honored in the newspaper’s special section, Scholar Athletes are recognized with approximately 150 of their peers at Busch Stadium on the field before the Cardinal’s baseball game.

Gabe Gabert



11th grader Gabe Gabert advanced from the solo regional to compete in the state solo competition at the end of April. He received a silver rating for his solo on the bass, which is the second highest possible

Pamela Davenport, Principal of South City Academy


It is hard to believe it’s the last month of the 2018-2019 school year! As our students become more-and-more excited about the approaching end of school, we ask you to partner with us to keep your student disciplined and focused. It is an exciting time for all of us, and we anticipate a smooth end to a tremendous year. As the 2018-2019 school year ends, I would like to express how grateful I am to lead such a remarkable community of students, parents and staff. I am proud of all of the achievements and accomplishments of our students here at South City Academy. These would not be possible without your support and dedication.


For those who signed up for summer school, I look forward to seeing you Monday, June 3. Summer school will give your student a boost in reading, math and science, as well as daily enrichment classes. The enrichment classes will include things like cooking, Claymation, retro recreation and BrickLab. 


To our students, thank you for all your hard work throughout the school year. I am honored to be your principal; you make me proud to be a South City Academy Comet. I am grateful for your enthusiasm, joy and amazing talents. Best wishes to our graduating eighth graders, whom I will miss greatly—please come back and visit.

Ahsley Olsen, Head of School for Grand Center Arts Academy



Time moves at a break-neck pace, and it is hard to believe this school year is coming to a close. I am grateful to have joined GCAA as it is poised for a systematic and cultural shift—these are challenging yet exciting times, and I thank the GCAA community for displaying passion, soul and talent at every turn. As we commit ourselves to accountability, investment, inclusivity and excellence, we will see the collective heart of GCAA strengthen and better position our students for success in the world at large.


It is the nature of schools to strive for continued improvement, and while we have significant work ahead, I feel hopeful and assured that we are moving in the right direction as a community. I look forward to the years ahead as they are abundant with opportunity. Thank you GCAA and enjoy your summer!


Blueprint 4 Summer: Plan 4 Fun For Summer Learning


It’s more than what happens in the classroom that adds up to a child receiving a great education. Fun and diverse summertime opportunities ensure kids will develop their own creative pursuits, expand their education, and spend their summers constructively.


 Blueprint4SummerSTL was designed to be an easy-to-use mobile app that connects ALL St. Louis-area kids to summer learning opportunities. Blueprint4SummerSTL was built with the generous support and partnership of community leaders and organizations that want to help St. Louis-area kids succeed. Blueprint4SummerSTL – where to plan 4 fun! To enroll visit 



Summer Journey: Hands-on, Fun & Full of Rewards


For parents, summer often requires thoughtful planning and preparation—of activities, logistics and cost—to ensure children are kept active and engaged during the two-to-three months of summer vacation. The Summer Journey program is a free, full-day program that runs 20 days (June 3-28, 2019) and includes free breakfast and lunch. Summer Journey is a hands-on program that provides opportunities for children to stay engaged in learning while having fun with friends.


Each year, more than 20,000 Missouri students participate in Summer Journey. Offering a healthy balance of project-based academics with a fun, hands-on enrichment course, Summer Journey keeps children active and engaged in learning even if it doesn’t feel like it. Morning classes consist of core courses such as reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Afternoon classes include enrichment courses such as cooking, art and athletics.


If you have any questions about the Summer Journey program, contact the main office at your child’s school. Students will receive a brochure with specifics. Once you’ve completed the enrollment form, return it to the school to receive a free knapsack.


Daily & Weekly Drawings

  • $100 gift card drawing (perfect attendance)
  • $75 gift card drawing (miss one day)
  • $50 gift card drawing (miss two days)
  • Grand Prize: One student K-5 and one student 6-8 will win an iPad for perfect attendance!



GCAA Faculty Brandon Riley Recognized as Teacher of the Month


“I’m not the traditional theatre teacher that comes to mind,” says Brandon Riley of Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA). “The first couple of years, the parents would hear about me and then meet me — and then there’s a five- to ten-second reboot period. I’m a decent-sized black male,” he says, laughing. Mr. Riley has taught at GCAA for six years, a school that is also a bit non-traditional. Located in Grand Center, it spans from sixth to 12th grade and focuses on visual and performing arts, such as music, dance and theatre. 


Growing up in St. Louis, he easily relates to students who, like him, were not raised in an affluent household. But he believes that some things transcend race and class, such as the ability to work through difficult situations, a skill he cultivates in his students. “Consistently, with all of my classes, I make an effort to help them be the best versions of themselves.”

As a theatre teacher, he stages two large productions at Grand Center Arts Academy each year—a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. These are interspersed with improv nights, theatre showcases and middle school ensemble shows. 


No matter what production or program he’s involved in, Mr. Riley’s focus and motivation is the same. “It’s definitely the students,” he says. “The moment when you can see students start to acknowledge their own value, when they grow from little kids into young men and women, when they start to see their actual potential and not limit themselves—those moments are priceless.”


Being honored as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Teacher of the Month came as shock. “I was really surprised because I didn’t even know that I had been nominated,” he says. 


Edited excerpt from St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Brand Ave. Studios

Confluence Connect - Winter 2019

School-Based Health Center at Aspire Academy

At Confluence, we have long recognized the link between the health of our students and their families and the vibrancy of our communities. After nearly a year of preparation, we are excited to launch Aspire Academy’s new health clinic—Affinia at Confluence Aspire School-Based Health Center. The clinic will open in the first few months of 2019.

Here’s what you need to know:

Located at Aspire Academy, 5421 Thekla Ave, our new, free services will roll out to STUDENTS ONLY throughout the entire Confluence community with mobile services that will be used to travel to other campuses in the district. Our plan is to be able to expand the services offered at this school-based health clinic to include members of the student’s immediate family in the near future.

No student will be denied services based on lack of insurance. If a student does not have insurance, Aspire and Affinia staff will work together to help enroll the student in a state, federal or local program. If students have insurance through their parent, they can use it at the health center or mobile service center.

For more information, contact 314-383-8900


With classes now underway for 2019, I wanted to take a moment to look forward to some exciting developments in the year ahead. We have many exciting initiatives coming on-line in 2019 that will continue to strengthen our schools, students, families, and communities.

In January, GCAA hosted open auditions for young artists and performers for the 2019 season of The Muny, furthering its recognized connections with the arts community in St. Louis. We are excited to see all the talent on display at GCAA!

At Confluence Preparatory Academy, 2019 will begin a new partnership with the University of Missouri-Columbia entitled the Middleton Fellows Program. This significant new initiative is designed to mentor CPA students interested in the fields of teaching and community leadership.

We will also take up some new tools in our efforts to engage Confluence families in 2019. Our longstanding print newsletter will take two new forms beginning in January—a revised quarterly print edition that will be available as always in our school offices, and also a new online blog edition that will enable us to deliver more immediate news, make better use of video, create more opportunities for direct engagement and launch a new podcast series. Both the print and digital editions will be called Confluence Connect. We hope you find them useful and timely.

Finally, in the first few months of 2019 we will be excited to launch Aspire Academy’s new school-based health clinic—the Aspire Academy Community Health Center, with comprehensive medical and dental services available to students and provided by our partners at Affinia Healthcare.

To our families, please know that we are all grateful that you have entrusted the education of your children to Confluence Academies. We will work every day in the year ahead to earn that trust.

Science Ambassadors

Congratulations to our 9th grade Confluence Preparatory Academy students, Christianah Shaw, Ronald Curry, Darnell Houston who will be new employees at the Saint Louis Science Center! The three Confluence Prep Academy teens will serve as Youth Ambassadors at the YES Program – Youth Exploring Science. They will start their week-long assignments during the month of May. Part of their responsibilities will include serving as tour guides and trainers of elementary school students at the Science Center and other full-time duties.

Confluence Academies to host 2019 Muny Kids auditions


“The auditions generated a lot of excitement in our school community,” said Dr. Candice Carter Oliver, CEO of Confluence Academies. “Our goal at GCAA is to serve students with a meaningful, well-rounded education that includes a strong emphasis in visual and performing arts and a commitment to academic excellence. Certainly many of our students aspire to The Muny stage themselves, so I’m not surprised by the buzz on the GCAA campus!”

Open auditions were held January 19 and 20 at the Sun Theatre. From these auditions, the Muny will select members for its 2019 Youth Ensemble, Muny Kids and Muny Teens Touring Troupes.




CPA teacher wins award in the field of social science

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced the 2018-19 Regional Teachers of the Year as part of the Missouri Teacher of the Year program. Jennifer Luker of Confluence Preparatory Academy was awarded a Regional Teacher of the Year award in the field of social science. The program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing quality education to their students.

Committees, comprised of peers and stakeholders for each Regional Professional Development Center area, selected 32 teachers to be eligible for the 2019 Missouri teacher of the year award. Congratulations Ms. Luker!

Charles Berry

Charles Berry, Aspire Academy

How long have you been teaching at Confluence? This is my first year.

What do you teach? Fifth and sixth grade science. I also lead Boy Scout Troop 522.

What is your fondest memory from teaching this year? The reactions from the students when they get the concept being taught by MySci.

Haley Brueck

Haley Brueck, Confluence Preparatory Academy

How long have you been teaching at Confluence? This is my seventh year.

What do you teach? I teach senior/junior college and career prep classes and journalism classes. My journalism students produce a video yearbook, a print yearbook, and a quarterly school newsletter. I am also an active member of the Confluence Academies’ wellness committee.

What is your fondest memory from teaching this year? My students’ excitement and pride over producing the very first edition of the CPA school newsletter.


GCAA Website Earns Finalist Rank

The prestigious Pacemaker is often described as the Pulitzer Prize for student journalists. Senior Aurora Phillips, who is the Engagement Editor, was delighted by the news. “It was really exciting to hear,” Phillips said. “I know the award is a really big deal and to be a finalist among only 44 other schools is a very big deal.”

Phillips, who has been on staff since her sophomore year, also sees the honor as validation of the work she and the staff have put into the site.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” Phillips said. “This is my first time being an editor. If we’re considered for an award like a Pacemaker, that means we’re doing something right and we’re on our way to doing something great. We redesigned the website and have been creating things in a new way. We’re trying to revolutionize the way we do things.”

While most schools typically have separate staffs for each student publication, GCAA Student Media has one staff of 13 that produces all content for both the web and yearbook.

“The fact that the students were able to accomplish this with a staff of 13 is tremendous,” said adviser Travis Armknecht. “I’m extremely proud of their ability to create outstanding content for not one, but two publications simultaneously.”

Phillips agrees. “I think it says that we are as capable as staffs that have fifty or more people,” Phillips said, “We’re just as capable to produce award-winning materials.”

The 44 finalists were selected from a pool of around 200 entries from 34 states. GCAA was one of six finalists from the St. Louis area. Winners of the Pacemaker Award will be announced in April at the National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, CA.

For more information about GCAA Student Media, visit For more information regarding the National Scholastic Press Association and the Pacemaker Award, visit

Confluence Updates

Arnez Newton has been selected to serve as Dean of Students at GCAA. He previously served as an eighth-grade history teacher at GCAA as well as other schools for the past 14 years.


Parents and families gathered in the Aspire Gymnasium for an event hosted by the PTO for Family Fitness Night. “This event was a great way to engage with parents and help them learn some fun ways to stay in shape. Plus we got to see the parents dance moves, and that’s always fun.” said Lisa Boxley-Lucket Assistant Principal.


Congratulations to Ms. Colbi Wayne for being named staff person of the year!


The CPA Debate team placed 7th place for their participation in the SUDL (St. Louis Urban Debate League) competition.


Alumni of Confluence Preparatory Academy were welcomed back who are giving and reaching back to help, inspire, encourage, and advise fellow students who now attend Coe College and Lincoln University.

Finally, the CPA blood drive with the American Red Cross was a huge success with dozens of students volunteering to give blood.



Confluence Athletics


The boys basketball team won first place in the Confluence South City Tournament.
Pictured (L to R): Coach Larry Kirksey, Darric Williford, Billy Hall, Myron Gunter, Corion Clemons, Lawrence McConnell, Tashonne Lawrence, Coach Jessica Kirksey; Bottom row: Ralph Times, Lester McKinley, Erico Tankins.
CPA senior Terrell Morris doing his part to rack up a 64-30 victory against Mexico High School at the Norm Stewart Classic. Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch, Randy Kem.
Coach Jibreel Muhammad talking his players through a time out in a game against Aspire Academy. Pictured: Troy Alexander, Luther Massey, Tyrell Caldwell, Zion Petty, Terrion Diamond, Demetrius Gilmore, Demarrio Fields, DeVeontay Dailey-Jones, Eric Criss, Armaad Sharp, Daytonio Nash-Goode.




South City Explores STEAM

Families gathered at South City to explore the concepts of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and interact with projects created by students. Groups like Scratch, CodeCombat, Makey Makeys, and Globalhack taught participants how to code as well. This hands-on event had a human brain on display, chess lessons and games, engineering projects and lessons from Eureka Math. Parents were also welcome to shop from the thrift store and fill a bag of clothes and school supplies.

“Events like this help our students realize how the world around them works,” said Principal Pam Davenport “The best part is when we get to see that pride and joy from parents when they see their children create something they are proud of.”


Solve For Tomorrow

The Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA) Makerspace was one of five Missouri state finalists for the nationwide The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and a chance to win $100,000. Classrooms were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning.

“They are digging deep to find solutions to various problems affecting society and I have the honor of learning right along with them,” GCAA Makerspace teacher Laura Schuhwerk said. “We are ecstatic to be a state finalist and have already started planning for the next level of competition!”

Although the students did not make it past the state rounds, Ms. Schuhwerk and her students were undeterred. “The students are still motivated to help their community, so we’re hosting a health fair in the spring!”

How it worked

One middle school and one high school class was tasked with using the design thinking process to research, ideate, prototype, test and iterate products to help solve a problem of their choice. After presenting ideas, students voted on which project to submit for the contest. The project chosen focuses on supporting young people struggling with mental health.

The GCAA Makerspace is a place for students to maximize their creative genius.