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 Students Help Pick Name for Vista JCCS Campus

Students often get to pick a prom theme or mascot, but it's not common for them to be able to help select their school's name.

Students at the school now known as Innovations Academy of Empowerment had that rare opportunity recently.

Over the last couple of weeks, teachers at the Juvenile Court and Community Schools campus in Vista got input from the 120 students there about what they'd like their school to be called.

Principal Ben Nakamura said the approach and the name itself reflect the goal of educator's at the school to take a new and innovative approach to teaching and empowering students.

Being able to help pick the name was especially important for the students at the school who may not have felt connected to their schools in the past. Most of the students at the school were sent there by probation officers or school districts.

"It was really important to give the students a voice," Nakamura said. "It makes them feel like they are part of a community and they belong."

Once the students shared their input, smaller focus groups of students and educators refined the ideas and came up with the final name.

The students celebrated their new name with a colorful banner unveiled July 1 at a ceremony where a large mural they helped create was also unveiled.

Innovations Academy of Empowerment opened in February​, combining classes that used to be held at four separate locations. By bringing these students together on a larger campus, educators there are able to give them a more typical educational experience while still offering them the extra attention they need. They can even take elective classes, such as robotics, art, horticulture, and career planning.

At the school, students in grades 7 through 12 are able to catch up on their credits. Some graduate from the school while others go back to their home school districts after they meet certain requirements.