Zion Lutheran becomes Somerset Academy Key, retains preschool

Posted on 08 July 2016 by LeslieM

zionsomerset070716By Rachel Galvin

The Class of 2016 was the last class to graduate from Zion Lutheran. The school that began in 1964 is in the process of being transformed into a charter school called Somerset Academy Key. During the transition, many students and teachers went elsewhere, but others remained and an influx of new students is coming in. They currently have enrolled 420 students, but expect to have 600 in total by the time school starts.

There no longer will be a Christian curriculum and, since it is turning from a private to public school, students will be subject to testing and requirements they have never experienced before, but new principal Dennis Mulrooney said the changes are a good thing.

[The students] haven’t had those rigors before. I believe it is a step above. We are pushing higher education and setting them up for secondary success, putting them in a position to get into college. We are there to help them along the way.”

Mulrooney began his work in education in schools in Miami-Dade County. He has worked in administration and as a curriculum coach. He worked as an Assistant Principal at Somerset Academy in Miramar at an elementary level for two years. Looking to gain high school experience, he transferred to another charter school, Mater Academy, where he became Assistant Principal for two more years. When the call came asking him if he wanted to come to Deerfield and open Somerset Academy Key, he jumped at the chance.

Getting the call was a blessing. It is everything I have ever wanted,” he said.

The school is being freshened up to have a more Somerset feel. They will be retaining the colors and the lion mascot from Zion, but the lion may change a little.

They are updating the computers, installing new software. They have about 200 computer stations and plan to increase it up to 400-450 stations once they reach their intended enrollment.

In addition to already instituted extracurricular activities, including sports, students will be able to create their own clubs.

Students will create and drive the activity [programming]. If there is enough interest, they can get a sponsor and fundraise,” said Mulrooney, adding, “I want students to feel this is a second home for them.

The school, which will now only serve grades 6 to 12, currently has open enrollment. But the process to get in is not as easy as a regular school.

There is only a certain amount of seats at each level. Once we hit that, students go on a wait list. It is not a simple process. The later students register, the less likelihood they will get in,” he said.

Meanwhile Zion’s pre-school, now called Zion Early Learning Center, and the church is still operational.

The preschool serves ages six weeks to Pre-K. Kids here tackle STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) from day one. They follow the WEE curriculum, which is Christian-based. The staff is all CDA certified (with the Childcare Development Association). Over the summer, students learn a different fairy tale every week and incorporate it into their studies.

They also have a Vacation Bible School and a Summer Camp. The camp, which runs through August, includes traveling to fun adventures like the park, movies and elsewhere.

Both Somerset and the preschool are seeking students. For more information on Somerset Academy Key, call 954-481-0602 or visit www.somersetkey.com. For more information on the preschool and their programs, call 954-421-3146.

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