Summer is just around the corner, which means students are making big plans for a well-earned break while schools are gearing up for the start of a new school year. In Homewood, students and teachers alike at Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA) are celebrating something special—the successful completion of the academy’s very first school year!
We spoke with three graduating seniors to learn more about why Magic City Acceptance Academy means so much to them.
What makes Magic City Acceptance Academy Unique?
It wasn’t too long ago that Birmingham was introduced to Magic City Acceptance Academy, a brand-new public charter school located in Homewood. MCAA prides itself on being an LGTBQ-affirming learning environment where all students, regardless of how they identify, can feel welcome and accepted.
“We found that there was a great need for a school like MCAA for kids in Birmingham and the surrounding areas who felt that they were not in a safe learning environment; maybe they had dropped out of school but wanted to finish their education. They are just kids that were not getting the education that they deserved in their current environment.”Rachel Benoit, Art Teacher, Magic City Acceptance Academy
Open to all students in grades six through 12, MCAA’s faulty and teachers—like founding Spanish teacher Nora Samayoa—are dedicated to offering an exceptional, quality-driven education.
“To me, the core of being a teacher is not only educating students but giving them an environment that supports them in their journey to become strong students and leaders in their lives. We make sure that our students feel safe, supported and get every inch of the education they deserve.”Rachel Benoit, Art Teacher, Magic City Acceptance Academy
Here’s what Magic City Acceptance Academy’s first graduating seniors think about the school
To learn more about what it means to attend Magic City Acceptance Academy, we spoke with Evelyn Fasking ’22, Landon Harris ’22 and Loki Dooley ’22—three of Magic City Acceptance Academy’s first graduates. Despite coming from different backgrounds and places in Alabama, the trio have become fast friends over the past year.
Evelyn: “Throughout junior high and high school, my grades and my mental health were spiraling downward. Things got worse when we went virtual due to the pandemic—I was even more isolated. My parents heard about MCAA and thought I would be a good fit. I am so, so glad I chose to come here.”
Loki: “I come from a small town in Alabama, and I came to MCAA just to find a safe place to learn and meet new people. I’ve found so much more than that; I’ve found respect, new friendships and guardian-like teachers I know I can count on.”
Landon: “After I moved to Birmingham three years ago, I attended a local high school but it just wasn’t right for me. Once I heard about MCAA, I immediately applied to get in to the school.”
Over the past year, Evelyn, Loki and Landon—along with hundreds of their fellow students—have come to love the learning environment at Magic City Acceptance Academy.
Evelyn: “At MCAA, people don’t make fun of me for being different or for seeing things from a different point of view. And the teachers—get this—actually treat students like people. It’s so nice to be treated like a person. I really, really cherish the friendships I’ve made here with the students and teachers alike.“
Landon: “I’ve really loved the environment here. All of us seniors are really close—every single day, we have homeroom together and we tell jokes, laugh and have amazing quotes. It’s just a super tight group. There is a level of acceptance that you just don’t get at other schools. I was super tired of the ‘fake nice’ treatment I was getting at other places. But here, you can actually find acceptance and deep love and connection to other people.”
Although Evelyn, Loki and Landon are making plans for the next chapter in their life—college—they’ll always look back fondly on their time at Magic City Acceptance Academy.
Evelyn: “When I was spiraling, people kept telling me, ‘Oh, don’t worry, it gets better’, but they never told me when or how it would get better. If you’re like me and you’ve hit what feels like the end of the road, Magic City Acceptance Academy could be your win. Here, I’ve experienced such an extreme turnaround in my schooling and life in general. Magic City Acceptance Academy is that sense of community I needed.“
Loki: “If you’re looking for a safe place to learn and to not be attacked for a disability, the way you look, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation or your gender identity, Magic City Acceptance Academy is the place for you to come to feel safe.”
What’s next for Magic City Acceptance Academy?
On Friday, May 27th, Evelyn, Landon and Loki will join the rest of their class at the very first graduation ceremony for Magic City Acceptance Academy.
“These students are proof that Magic City Acceptance Academy works, and we are excited to continue to prove how this school is helping these students succeed. If you are a student that’s looking for a space to grow and thrive in that’s different than your traditional educational system, give us a chance. We take pride in loving anybody and everybody that walks through those doors, and we want to make sure that you can get the education you deserve.”Rachel Benoit, Art Teacher, Magic City Acceptance Center