City Connection - Fall 2021

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A Message from Michelle Strawbridge, Board of Trustees Chair “ I had a dream for my boys, and Don had a vision for a school, and the two collided.”

I repeat this quote often because it speaks to the incredible impact City Academy has made on my family. As parents, we all dream of the best for our children, and my husband and I found it at City Academy. As north city residents, our options were limited, but thanks to City Academy’s commitment to providing a quality education, and to breaking financial barriers through the Scholarship Program, our sons, Michael and Marshall, found their educational paths. Now adults themselves, Michael graduated from Beloit College and is currently in his third year of a five-year PhD program in political science at Rutgers University, and Marshall graduated from Manhattan College and works for a nonprofit in New York, doing his part to help his community just as others helped him. The immeasurable impact City Academy had on their lives is why I am so excited to be serving as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the 2021-2022 academic year.

help keep City Academy thriving. In the years that followed, I continued to support the school as a volunteer, a donor and as a Trustee. Through this work, I’ve gained deeper insight to how we all can come together to better support children. I’ve not only seen the difference this community is making for City Academy families, I’ve lived it. As the Chair, my greatest hope is to deepen those connections between the Board and the school community, between the current and alumni families, between those investing in our school and those whose lives are changing thanks to that investment. I hope that by serving as Chair, I can help inspire families, alumni, volunteers and supporters to stay connected and to get involved with the amazing things happening every day on City Academy’s campus. Just like my dreams and Don’s vision colliding years ago to change the lives of my children, our shared commitment to City Academy’s vision of education equity is what will continue to change the lives of every City Academy scholar. On behalf of our families and as Chair of the Board, thank you for your commitment to our scholars.

When my boys were students at City Academy, it was hard to comprehend the work of the Board of Trustees, or the community of supporters who 1 The Strawbridge Family



Hope Morris wanted to send her child to City Academy before she was even born. Having an affordable, high-quality school–one right in their neighborhood–was a dream come true. The academically rigorous program, caring community, and ongoing support through secondary school were just what Hope’s daughter Chase needed to set the stage for her success. Chase graduated from City Academy with a strong academic foundation that made her a high performing student throughout secondary school. She is a freshman at her dream school, Howard University, on her way to a career in aesthetic dermatology.

“ The education at City Academy completely prepared me for the future. Even in middle school, a lot of what we did I had already learned. That foundation really helped me get the best grades and be at the top of my class.” – Chase Thompson ‘15 (Ladue Horton Watkins High School ‘21, Howard University ‘25)

Beyond the academics, City Academy helped Chase identify her strengths and find her voice. She had an interest in skincare and beauty from a young age.


Chase Thompson

City Academy’s supportive community and emphasis on leadership development helped her identify her goal: to create more options for people of color in aesthetic dermatology. The strong STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program prepared her to advance through science courses with flying colors. Motivated by her goal and equipped with strong learning experiences in STEAM, Chase set her dream in motion. To support this journey, Chase and Hope found a home for their entire family in the caring community at City Academy. When Chase was in 1st grade they experienced a home fire. The dedicated faculty and staff, alongside supportive peer families and donors, made all the difference in helping them recover. After graduation, the Alumni Program continued to support Chase through secondary school and preparation for college. One-on-one visits, assistance with college applications and letters of recommendation, and other supportive resources through the City Academy network helped Chase remain focused on her school work and excel. Now a freshman at Howard University, Chase is excited for what her future holds. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner in aesthetic dermatology. She hopes to focus on patient care and to be able to help people of color find their voice, just as City Academy helped her find her own. Chase and her mother both remain involved at City Academy and give back.

“ I still feel a deep sense of wanting to give back to City Academy because they have done so much for Chase. I am honored to sit on the Alumni Parent Committee because this is the place where I want to give back. The support that City Academy provides, the academics, the community, is definitely what prepared Chase for the future. Any investment into City Academy will pay off in the long run.” – Hope Morris



ACCOMPLISHMENTS Exceptional Education Thanks to generous support of our STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, art and math), our outdoor classrooms now feature an aquaponic pond! Dr. Noah Hollenkamp, 1st grade STEAM teacher, has worked tirelessly to construct the pond, including a floating garden and additional garden beds surrounding the water. The pond is already attracting wildlife including frogs and birds. The fish and other animal visitors help sustain the gardens, and give our 1st grade scholars an opportunity to study an ecosystem first hand, right outside their classroom! In 2020-2021, City Academy’s Pen Pal program was launched. Our 3rd and 5th grade scholars partnered with community volunteers to practice their writing and communication skills. The program also built


connections with our community. Volunteers, students, and teachers were so happy with the program, we have brought it back for the 2021-2022 school year and expanded it to include 84 pen pal pairs in 3rd through 6th grades! Several of our 2020-2021 3rd grade Pen Pals were able to attend the Living Wax Museum, and finally meet their students in person (see photo above). City Academy is dedicated to developing exceptional students and outstanding global citizens. Through a partnership with WE Schools, an organization working to empower students to create long-term, sustainable change in their communities, our students complete service-learning projects. Last school year, our 6th grade class developed a campaign

to improve access to clean drinking water. Working with a local nonprofit, they hosted a shoe drive to support the construction of wells for communities in need across the globe. The class created artwork to advertise the campaign, developed presentations for the Board of Trustees and for their peers, and spread the word through social media. Through their hard work, over 1,800 pairs of gently used shoes were donated to partner organizations! WE Schools programming continues this year, and we cannot wait to see the impact our scholars will make on our community!

College Placement The City Academy community strives to break down barriers for our scholars not just while they are here, but also after they leave our campus. Each of our alumni in 7th-12th grades receives one-on-one visits and calls from our Alumni Support Team, who also help facilitate tutoring, mentoring, test preparation, academic support,and our innovative STRIVE for College Program. STRIVE pairs secondary school students with peer mentor student volunteers from Washington University in St. Louis (a few who are City Academy graduates!) to help students prepare for and apply for college. City Academy alumni who graduated from secondary school in 2021 are attending the following schools, many receiving significant scholarship support: • Alabama State • Howard University • Kansas City Art Institute • Lake Forest College • Lindenwood University • St. Louis Community College • University of Memphis • University of Missouri - Kansas City

Alumni Accomplishments Three City Academy alumni completed internships with STL Artworks this summer. Camille Smith ‘17 (John Burroughs School ‘23), Nyla Pruitt ‘17 (John Burroughs School ‘23), and Alyssa Harris ‘19 (MICDS ‘25) were chosen to complete the six week program that pairs participants with professional artists to develop art and life skills. Camille, Nyla and Alyssa each completed several commissioned pieces and received valuable training from working artists in St. Louis, as well as experience with presentations and public speaking and financial literacy training. Christion Wynn ‘15 (John Burroughs School ‘21) began the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) pharmacy program this fall. The competitive program offers students the opportunity to complete their first two years of pre-pharmacy requirements at UMKC before continuing on to the School of Pharmacy to complete their program. Christion, a star student, scored a 35 on the ACT in math, and a 34 in science, and has received a significant merit scholarship for the UMKC program. Bailey Beverly ‘20 was awarded the Silver Award from Girl Scouts of the USA this semester. Working with other members of her troop, Bailey constructed, painted, stocked, and installed eight Little Free Libraries around East St. Louis. The Little Free Libraries will provide free reading material in areas with limited access to libraries or bookstores.

• University of Missouri - St. Louis/Washington University Joint Engineering Program • Xavier University of Louisiana



SPOTLIGHT Harris Frank

City Academy’s success, and the success of each scholar and graduate, is built upon the hard work and dedication of so many in our community. From the families, faculty, and staff to the dedicated volunteers and community supporters, there is an incredible network of people who make each day at City Academy magical. Last year we lost one of those dedicated supporters, but his legacy lives on at City Academy and through the lives he touched here. Harris Frank was introduced to City Academy through then Trustee Steve Loeb. Harris visited the school in 2008 and became a loyal volunteer and financial supporter immediately. He supported a variety of programs at City Academy, including the library and scholarships. Not only did Harris provide for our scholars during his lifetime, he provided an ultimate gift by including City Academy in his estate plans. Harris once said he felt lucky to be a part of City Academy, and to witness first-hand how the lives of so many were changed:

“ City Academy has really changed my life! How many people in their autumn years can have an opportunity to be a part of this spectacular educational initiative; can witness first-hand how the lives of so many youngsters are being changed in such a positive manner; can see teachers doing what they do because they know they are really making a difference.” – Harris Frank


Those who knew him on the other hand, felt lucky to experience his sense of purpose for helping others and the tireless work ethic that led him to volunteer at City Academy. The lives of the scholars lucky enough to be mentored by Harris were forever changed thanks to his support. Alvin Hamilton ’13 remembers him from a summer writing program:

“ Mr. Frank gave me a whole different view about writing. He captivated my interests with stories about the Civil War, and he challenged me to be a better writer and a better student. From that summer on, Mr. Frank was very supportive in mentoring me and advising me throughout my academic endeavors. Mr. Frank was a special person, a mentor, a friend, and a support system, to me and my parents.” Like Alvin, countless scholars and others in our community were inspired by Harris’ generosity and enthusiasm for our mission. We will greatly miss his support and his unwavering dedication to our students, Harris’ impact will live on through generations of scholars who will continue to strive to improve their communities thanks to his example.

Is a Gift of Stock Right for You? Maybe your stocks have appreciated greatly since you purchased them. Maybe a surge in value of one of your holdings has thrown your portfolio off balance. Maybe you just want to refocus on other investment categories. If you also give to charity, these scenarios should encourage you to review your investment portfolio with a donation strategy in mind. Why? Because donating stock directly to charity is one of the most tax-smart ways to give. Yet, it is often not well understood or widely used. According to a study by Fidelity Charitable, 80 percent of donors own appreciated assets, such as stocks, mutual funds, or bonds, but only 21 percent of those donors have contributed these types of assets to charity. If you are interested in making a gift of stock, please reach out to Janice Bailey, Chief Development Officer, at or 314.880.5010.

His gift will provide for future City Academy families and scholars. If you are interested in learning how to include City Academy in your estate plans, please contact Janice Bailey, Chief Development Officer, at 314.880.5010 or


4175 N. Kingshighway Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63115

FA L L 2 0 2 1 1

A Message from Michelle Strawbrige, Board of Trustees Chair


Alumni Feature: Chase Thompson


Accomplishments Report


Supporter Spotlight: Harris Frank


Is a Gift of Stock Right for You?