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Heritage High? Idea is growing

AMERICAN FORK — American Heritage School unveiled a proposal at a meeting with parents to start offering high school classes.

"What we hope to garner from this meeting is that, first of all, our number 1 question has been answered," said Cheryl Karr, director of the school's education center and mother of an American Heritage student. "Yes, there is enough support and interest for a high school. We wanted to make sure we had some interest, and that, I think, has manifested itself."

More than 40 parents and community members sat in the school's lecture room, discussing committees and real estate and books on how to start a high school.

And though the plans to start a high school are only in a preliminary phase, Karr said she thought it might be possible to have a high school extension up and running by next fall, though it might be in temporary facilities.

According to Karr and Jeff Acerson, a member of the school's board of trustees, the first step in creating the new school is to develop a number of committees through which the parents can create a game plan that addresses all of the new school's potential needs, including finding property on which to build the school.

"I hope we make sure that we don't create an animal that's pulling people away," Acerson said. "I hope we can create an atmosphere that people (in the community) will either want to support or at least respect."

The school's reputation in the community is well-known. It is a private school with a curriculum that incorporates religious teachings with secular subjects. The hallways of the almost-new school building are lined with pictures of both Benjamin Franklin and Jesus Christ, reflecting the school's objective to teach values as a part of the educational process.

"With the spirit that abides in (students') minds, in the classroom, with the teachers, you feel the respect and the self-government of the students," said Patricia Huhem, a parent of two American Heritage students. "It's unbelievable. It's a complete package, and when you have that, you cannot settle for anything less."

Huhem, whose mother was an elementary school teacher for 36 years, said that if plans to create a high school based on the same principles are not possible, then she will hire private tutors to educate her children instead of sending them to public school.

"I know the world quite a bit from both sides, and I know there is a better world," Huhem said. "I highly believe in what education can do for you."