The Incredible Sunburst Academy

Mary Lou Vachet, a Sunburst foundation board member and Academy advocate, spoke with the Club about the Sunburst Academy’s high school credit recovery program, its goals and its success rate with at risk teens ages 15 and a half to 18.

The 5 1/2 month residential program is intensive and aims to get the students back on track to graduate high school with their class. The program is free to attend for the students as the $28,000 cost per student is paid for with a combination of federal, state, local and private funds.

The Sunburst Youth Academy is a collaborative partnership with the Orange County Department of Education.

Academic Excellence is one of the eight Core Components at the academy. Students attend class daily in a traditional, sit-down, classroom environment and are provided a top-notch educational experience. 

The smaller student-to-teacher ratio enables the students to receive the maximum support. Students maintain an average GPA of 3.8 while enrolled and grow an average of three grade levels in math and reading comprehension. 

The Academy’s goal is to teach the students foundational tools and skills to achieve their full potential and return to the district of residence motivated and on track to graduate with their high school diploma.

Sunburst Academy - Los Alamitos
Sunburst Academy - Los Alamitos
Sunburst Academy - Los Alamitos
Sunburst Academy - Los Alamitos

Staff Sargent Stevens who works with students who might be interested in attending the Academy, explained the eight Core Components that drives the Academy and how these components help reshape the cadets

We were fortunate to have two Academy students, Cadets Gonzalez and Poth with us for lunch. They shared some of their personal stories about why they chose to attend the Sunburst Academy, how the program has helped them grow and improve, and some of the educational and coping skills they have acquired since entering the program.

Cadet Gonzalez says she has discovered the joy of running and reading while attending the Academy. She has grown into a leader.

Cadet Poth chose to change his life by attending the Academy  so that he can be an example for his siblings. 

Congratulations to both as their hard work over the past 5 months will allow them to graduate from graduate the Academy in just two weeks. From there they will return to their high schools to finish 

Sunburst provides an opportunity for the students to discover who they are, grow their character, and leadership abilities.

After the cadets graduate, they have two years of support from the Sunburst Academy staff with resources from the county and the Sunburst Foundation. 

Visit the Sunburst Academy website for additional details. 

Sunburst Academy Program Overview

The video below provides an overview of the Sunburst Academy program as it follows the class of 2023 from check in through graduation five and a half months later