For Sussex Academy students and staff, Aug. 26 represented more than just the start of a new school year.

For Sussex Academy students and staff, Aug. 26 represented more than just the start of a new school year.

Sussex Academy Principal Patricia Oliphant reminded the students who gathered in the morning for an assembly dappled with anticipation that many interesting experiences awaited them.

“Welcome to a new school, a new year, a new building, new people and a new beginning,” Oliphant said.

Sussex Academy has evolved from a middle school to a preparatory academy that will expand to the 12th grade by fall 2016. In June, school administrators officially swapped buildings with Delmarva Christian High School to have more room to grow. Over the summer, they renovated and completed existing classrooms for incoming ninth grade students, administrative offices and a conference room.

Among the 425 Sussex Academy students in the spacious school off Airport Road in Georgetown were 50 ninth graders. Oliphant stressed to them and to the middle school students that despite the newness, the mission and character of the school remain the same.

“We strive to excel academically and to serve our community. Now we have an opportunity to extend what we do with our students for a longer period of time,” she said. "The mission of the school is to prepare and qualify students for a top-tiered university education."

Previously known as Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences, the 13-year-old charter school recently ranked number one out of 47 Delaware middle schools for Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System testing in reading, writing and social studies, and ranked second in math. Since its opening, it has consistently ranked as one of the best schools in Delaware.

Charter schools like Sussex Academy are leading what some consider one of the most important and dynamic education reform movements in decades.

Oliphant said in addition to motivating students toward academic excellence, teachers can instill in children the values and positive attributes that contribute to the development of good character. Sussex Academy adheres to an educational philosophy known as “expeditionary learning,” which combines rigorous academic content and real world projects with active teaching and community service. This school reform model focuses on teaching in an engaging way while emphasizing learning by doing, character growth, teamwork and literacy.

Those ninth grade students who have attended Sussex Academy since the sixth grade said they welcome the rigorous curriculum that they are expecting with their high school experience.

Lindsey Perez of Georgetown hopes to embark upon a career as a neurologist.

“I love how teachers really encourage me and push me to achieve more," Perez said. "I know this school will offer me the best preparation I need for what I want to do."

As the school continues to grow, teachers will start to offer the International Baccalaureate Program in grades 11 and 12. IB is considered the gold standard in high school education.

To learn more about Sussex Academy, visit or call (302) 856-3636.