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Randolph Academy in Hamburg continues to serve local needs

HAMBURG — The large facility located on Howard Road was once home to troubled young people in a facility known as Hopevale Inc. It was founded more than 150 years ago to serve abused, delinquent and dependent children from 11 area counties. It shut down in December 2010, due to declining placements and reimbursement from the state.

That facility has also housed a school, since 1971. That school, formally known as Hopevale Union Free School District, served the educational needs of the residents of the Hopevale Inc. and special needs day students from throughout Western New York, who were bused in daily by their school districts.

After Hopevale Inc. closed, the 80-plus students and 50-plus employees of the school were looked out for by Superintendent Lori DeCarlo from another WNY special act school district.

Randolph Academy Union Free School District in Cattaraugus County and Hopevale Union Free School District in Hamburg announced their unification plans in June 2011. The combined district now operates two campuses – one in Hamburg and one in Randolph – that serve up to 100 students at each site. The Hamburg campus no longer has any residential programs.

“This type of transition between two special act school districts had never been attempted,” DeCarlo said, during the June 2011 press conference. “It required ground-breaking legislation and visionary action at all levels of state government. We’re extremely grateful for the support we received and inspired by the confidence placed in our schools.”

The school, now known as Randolph Academy – Hamburg campus, continues to offer educational services to local students, including students from as far out as Niagara Falls and as close at Frontier.

Students are generally referred to Randolph Academy with emotional and behavioral needs and the school has recently expanded its operations to include elementary boys and girls in kindergarten – fifth grade, in addition to the middle and high school programs.

Randolph Academy is now in the process of a multi-million dollar capital improvement project, which will provide upgrades to the schools roof, gymnasium, nursing suite and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

A senior student in the Ken-Ton School District said, about his new school, “When I arrived at Randolph Academy, I had a very low amount of high school credits. With the help of the dedicated teachers and staff here, I was able to get back on track and will be able to graduate soon. The small class sizes here allow me to focus more and I get the attention I need to be successful.”

Randolph Academy also offers a credit recovery option, a blended learning tool that combines online learning with individual tutoring from teachers. Students in the credit recovery program can work online from home after school and on weekends, to complete missing credits.

The stated mission of the Randolph Academy is to support, empower and educate a diverse group of learners to develop positive attitudes and responsible behaviors. The schools offer therapy, counseling and behavior management, as well as a 12-month academic programs.

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