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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Small school has a big impact

Pinnacle Academy students deliver supplies to a village in Burkina Faso.
The Pinnacle Academy, a small private, international school founded in Oakton 11 years ago, is the only “early college high school” in Northern Virginia.

Under this approach, students take college courses as early as the ninth grade so by the time they graduate, they earn an associate degree from Northern Virginia Community College, as well as a high school diploma. If they enroll in a four-year college, it only takes them two years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

You can learn more about the Pinnacle Academy and its unique programs at the Taste of Annandale, as the school is a Silver-level sponsor.

The school was established in Oakton 11 years ago to “instill a love of STEM learning,” says Principal Fatih Kandil. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Last year, the arts were added to the mix, making Pinnacle a STEAM school, with a new focus on music, drama, and fine arts.

The school has just 172 students in prekindergarten though grade 12, including 23 in high school. As a result, Kandil says, “everybody knows everybody.”

Despite its small size, Pinnacle students have made it to national and state-level competitions, including the regional science fair, National Spelling Bee, Geo Bee, and History Bee.

Community service is also a key part of the educational program. Students carry out social impact programs throughout the year and created the Blossom Together Association to raise funds for the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

The students raised $32,000 to provide wells for drinkable water, school supplies, student uniforms, and toys. Six students went to Burkina Faso, where they visited a village, distributed the supplies and meal packages and met with the U.S. ambassador and World Bank officials. Several organizations supported the project, including the Annandale Rotary Club and Northern Virginia Community College.

This year, Pinnacle students are planning to spend a month in Burkina Faso to teach English to youths hoping to attend college in the United States.

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