Confluence Connect

'Confluence Connect' is the official newsletter of Confluence Charter Schools. It's published at least three (3) times throughout the school year and is shared with families through the schools, as well as posted online. 


School-Based Health Center:

Affinia Healthcare now 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



A Message from our CEO

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.


Confluence Campus Updates


There’s a lot happening at Confluence Academies. For a full calendar of events visit our website:


Grand Center

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.


Aspire Academy

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.


Old North Academy

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


Confluence Prep Academy

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.



Science Ambassadors Confluence students to join Science Center’s YES Program as Youth 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.


Muny Auditions

Confluence kids, teens try out for 2019 season



The Muny chose Confluence Academies to host its 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.








Teacher of the year

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!

Teacher Highlight

Shout Out to Our Confluence Teachers




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, Confluence Prep 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

National Scholastic Press Association Honors




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 Athletics


Elite Academy boys basketball 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

Interactive Activities Introduce Students, Parents to 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

GCAA Makerspace a State Finalist for Samsung Contest



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. This spring’s health fair date and time will be posted online at