Pittsburgh charter school sees drastic rise in enrollment

PITTSBURGH — Enrollment at the Urban Academy, the black-led charter school in Larimer, has sky-rocketed with more than 100 children on the waiting list hoping to get a seat inside a classroom.

Chief Executive Officer Chase Patterson said for the first time, he is beginning to a major increase in enrollment.

“One hundred percent of our seats are full and we’re at a waiting list higher in every grade than we’ve ever been before,” he said.

Patterson believes the increase in enrollment has to do with how his team handled the pandemic and now that students are back inside the building. Efforts to keep them safe are high.

“One hundred percent of the students and the staff are required to wear a mask,” he said. “All staff that is non-vaccinated must have a random test once a week.”

The first day of school began Monday with a recognition of each student and a school pin that signifies academic and social growth. It’s a day that is being marked with inspiration and hope.

“To be back with all of our students for the first time in more than a year, is really exciting,” Patterson said.

Patterson’s vision for his elementary school students is very clear.

“All of our hallways are adorned with images and ideas of black greatness,” he said, including, “...a really specific focus around African American culture and science, technology, engineering arts and math. We’ve done that really well for 24 years now...Greatness can come from places like this, can come from kids like ours, families like ours, Larimer is the perfect place to demonstrate that.”