The River City Academy Class of 2012 has seen some big changes throughout their tenure. There were three locations, enrollment has increased three-fold, the staff has doubled in size and the school now houses a middle school program.
At RCA, the focus is on being a student-centered school, Principal Dawn Edwards-Smith said.
"One that really encourages students to participate and we value their feedback and make changes based on what they say," she said.
To graduate from RCA, students must maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average.
During the RCA graduation May 22 at the Gilman River Center, the three graduates each gave a speech, something Edwards-Smith said was an accomplishment in itself.
"Every single student that's standing up there excels at something," she said. "To watch them stand up and be able to give a speech in front of an entire room full of their family, friends and staff is amazing, it really shows off how far they've come."
Valedictorian Daniel McIntosh said the student-based curriculum really helped him stay interested in school.
"It was my first time of doing homework that was student-based," he said. "Student-based education, where you could work at your own pace, you get to create events."
McIntosh started at RCA as a sophomore.
"It just felt new to me, it got me more in to it," he said about the curriculum.
McIntosh, 18, is planning on attending Kenai Peninsula College in the fall for engineering and then transferring to either the University of Alaska Anchorage or the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Fellow graduate Craig Hills received the Art Recognition Award during graduation for his work in the art department. Hills designed the RCA mascot, received recognition from the Monterey Bay Aquarium for work he submitted, and taught art classes to elementary school students as part of the interim classes RCA is involved with.
"I feel honored," Hills, 19, said about graduating.
Hills said his favorite part about RCA was the reading and language arts and the interim classes in art.
"I like drawing things from films, cartoons and stuff," Hills said about his art subjects of choice.
Hills will be attending UCLA in August for animation classes.
"I have enjoyed being a part of River City Academy," Hills said in his graduation speech. "Especially all of the activities that were planned, these include art, boutique and chess."
The interim classes give RCA students a chance to teach others, which are elective classes done in January.
Graduate Shannon McConnell, 19, also taught boutiquing, which is a form of art where wax is used as a resist with a fabric dye.
"It's an Indonesian and African form of art," Edwards-Smith said.
"Shannon learned the first year how to boutique and since then she's taught the class."
Edwards-Smith said she knows RCA class of 2012 will succeed in their next step in life.
"They're going to be amazing leaders," she said. "I put my faith in them without a doubt."