Officials at Canyon State Academy invite the public to attend a ceremony to celebrate the opening of a new project they hope will provide its students with the necessary skills to not only get a job but also to navigate the real world after graduation.
At noon on Jan. 29, Canyon State Academy will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on its campus at 20061 E. Rittenhouse Road in Queen Creek. The ceremony will be part of the Sun Valley Community Church, which opened Jan. 8 on campus.
Canyon State Academy provides residential programming for at-risk youth who are given interventions, skills and opportunities to turn their lives around, according to its website: http://canyonstateacademy.com/. Its program provides these youth with a safe environment where they can change, grow and become productive citizens.
As part of its mission, the academy developed The Village at Canyon State, a social enterprise zone that provides students with vocational opportunities and helps integrate them into the community, CSA Executive Director Brian Heath said during an interview.
“It goes back to the ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ thinking. I was thinking for many years that we were the village, but then I realized we weren’t the village, the community is,” Mr. Heath said. “The Village is a school-based enterprise zone where students can work in an environment to help prepare them to transition from school to work or college.”
The community integration model that resulted in The Village at Canyon State expanded on CSA’s previous model in which each youth plays a sport and works toward his or her diploma. It helps the youths learn a trade by working at one of three businesses planned on the campus: the QC Junction Cafe, serving breakfast and lunch; NexGen barber shop and RePurposed thrift store.
The businesses build on vocational programs in existence at CSA, such as state certifications for barber skills and its culinary program.
“After they leave here, the kids can say, ‘I’m employable.’ We’ve been teaching them the hard skills and now working at the businesses will teach them soft skills such as interacting with the public,” Mr. Heath said.
The businesses will roll out one at a time. Hours of operation for the cafe — the first venture that will open — are still being determined, Mr. Heath said. However, student-trainees for the QC Junction Cafe will serve refreshments and hors d’oeuvres during the Jan. 29 soft opening and ceremony.
Mr. Heath said the rewards students will receive from working in The Village will exceed financial gains.
“Where most restaurants are concerned with table turnaround, we want you to stay around,” he said. “Everything we do is based on building relationships and engaging the community.”
CSA officials have been working with the town of Queen Creek during its planning process and invited the Queen Creek Town Council and staff to tour its facility last year.
“The campus is remarkable. The students were well-behaved being taught life skills and vocations by a staff of professionals,” Councilwoman Emilena Turley said in an e-mailed to questions. “The classes were orderly and innovative. I left more determined to do my part in integrating these young men and women into our community making them our own. They desire something more and we have the opportunity of being part of that.”
For more information, call 480-987-9700 or visit the CSA website.