Almond Acres Families Celebrate Groundbreaking and Gratitude

School makes significant steps toward their new facility as construction process gets under way

Paso Robles, Ca. (December 15, 2020) Almond Acres Academy, a tuition-free, public charter school successfully serving students and families in the area since 2012, is celebrating their new school building becoming a reality for students to enjoy beginning in the fall of 2021.

“The road back here has been a bit long, but we finally have our new home in sight,” said Robert Bourgault, executive director. “The Paso Robles community has welcomed us back, and we are so very grateful to build a permanent home here for our families. With our new building, we’ll be able to serve more students in their quests to become the very best versions of themselves.”

Earlier this fall, once the school’s charter petition was approved, ground breaking began the construction process on the new 32,000 square foot building, which is being built specifically to support Almond Acres’ unique educational experience, adding even more meaning and functionality in their mission of educating the whole child. 

“This building is more than a school. It’s going to be a complete, immersive learning environment,” said Natalie Gale, Almond Acres mom and school advocate. “I can’t wait to have my kids experience a return to Almond Acres next fall for the remainder of their formative educational years.”  

Artist rendering of Almond Acres Charter Academy

Almond Acres is celebrating the new building with regular school updates, and in this season of gratitude and celebration, wants to thank the community for their support. At the groundbreaking ceremony (watch a flyover of the socially distant event here) these community members were honored for their support: 

With special thanks to:

  • AACA Families, Faculty and Staff

The Founders:

  • Ms. Ogorsolka, Ms. Martin, Ms. Colegrove, Ms. Baker, Ms. Doherty, Mr. Fotinakes, Ms. Sandlin, and Ms. Wommack

The Almond Acres School Board:

  • Samer Mohamed, Justin Perino, Don Goldammer, Salvador Cota, Katrina Mohamed, Edward Surber, and Abby Stoltzfus

And additional thanks:

  • Robert & Susie Bourgault, Debbie Arnold, John Peschong, Dr. James Brescia, Curt Dubost, John Hamon, Steve Gregory, Maria Garcia, Tom Bordonaro, Sheriff Ian Parkinson, Stephanie Ulibarri, Chris Bausch, Joel Peterson, Christopher Arend, Lance Gannon, Dee Lacey, Chuck Desmond, Doug Ayres, Larry Werner, Leo Castillo, Diane Ward, and Jerry Simmons

Almond Acres is launching open enrollments for the 2021-22 school year on January 15, 2021 and is searching for a new community Board member to join the family. For more information, visit

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. The school is currently located in San Miguel and is open to all students in all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. Learn more at

Via: Paso Robles Daily News

The Lowdown From Our Alums

Middle school is a bridge where students go from being big kids to teens. At some point, middle school challenges every kid  — academically, socially, hygienically. Biology has guaranteed that. So how does middle school impact this critical time of growth and development? What matters most — to achieve a satisfying middle school experience? How does a middle school prepare students for the rigors and demands of high school? And what is the right middle school for your child? 

We asked some ACCA middle school alums these questions and more. We figured, they’re as close to the experience as we are. Maybe even closer as they’re now in the throes of full-fledged teen life and high school. Read on for their reflections and sentiments — and maybe a little teenage cyber side eye. 

boys working on laptop

As a student, what did you enjoy about AACA?

Made some of my best friends ever!

I enjoyed the amount of one-on-one attention and education I received since the classes were so small. I felt like I could create deeper connections with my peers and teachers as well for the same reason. Despite what I thought while attending AACA, I found it beneficial in my older years to have thoroughly learned the Habits of Mind and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Small class sizes, everyone was friendly with each other.

The ability to work closely with the teachers and classmates. 

I liked how personable the environment was, everything was very collaborative.  Also, the play every year is what started me on the theater path and I am now in my second year as an Advanced Drama student.

All of my close friends at school. 

What did you find most rewarding during your time at AACA?

The connections I made. I found I was very comfortable talking to adults and having beneficial conversations and other kids clearly did not have those skills.

The field trips I got to take during my time at AACA are something I will cherish forever. During high school, depending on what classes you take, the field trips are minimal to none. I enjoyed every field trip I took at Almond Acres (even though the trips to the PAC were less than desirable, they’re fun to look back on). I got to experience different parts of SLO County and beyond that I would’ve never gotten the chance to by attending every field trip offered second through eighth grade. I appreciate the effort put into each one.

Learning how to do math —  it’s needed in the future. 

All the leadership talks with Mr. B. 

The friendships I made and being able to express myself.  

Opportunities to work on projects, such as painting the mural.

boys standing on a beach

What is one positive thing you would tell prospective students about AACA?

Almond Acres Charter Academy offers individualized learning for all learning styles and it’s an organization that focuses on doing what is kind rather than what’s right. The vision they have is unique and it’s apparent that they’re working on making it a reality each day. A safe environment is something you should expect when attending and the amount of support the staff provides is matched by no other. AACA does indeed grow great kids. 

AACA will give you opportunities to identify and use your own strengths to excel.

You will find yourself and make friends that last a lifetime.

It was an amazing experience so don’t take it for granted! 

The teachers are super nice compared to high school. 

AACA is a great place to slow down and learn about yourself. There are lots of day-to-day skills you learn that even adults have trouble with.

Hearty thanks to these AACA middle school alums for sharing their feedback with us. Almond Acres gives 6th to 8th graders many opportunities to expand their sense of self — and to explore their place in this world. We love hearing directly from our students. If your family is seeking a middle school —  focused on the whole child — you have found it. We’re enrolling and we welcome your middle schooler to join our collective ensemble of great kids! 

About AACA

Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

Those Who Can… Lead!

Congratulations to our eighth graders who ran for student council president of Almond Acres Middle School! We are so impressed with your articulate speeches, your leadership skills and your dedication to your school. You all bring big ideas and enthusiasm to Almond Acres and we’re thrilled to showcase you even further. 

Below are the speeches and photos of each candidate for student body president of Almond Acres Charter Academy middle school. 

boy in blue shirt

Brandon McWilliams. 

Hi, my name is Brandon McWilliams, and I am one of five people in eighth grade this year that are running for Student Body President. 

When I was in 5th grade we had the same thing.  We had an eighth-grade student body president, and it really motivated me to become a leader and do things out of my comfort zone that I know that I can do, and to do the right thing. 

I have two years of leadership experience in the Leadership program through the school, and it’s really taught me to be fair, honest, kind, open to other people’s ideas, and organized.  I would use those same traits as Student Body President.   

One of my ideas is to have a Google Form or a virtual input box where students can type in problems or suggestions for middle school that they would like to change. So, this will allow students if they think they have too much work, they can fill out the form; and, the teachers, they aren’t looking through their email, looking for a certain email that a student sent them, they can just open up that Google form and they can see, “Oh, 75% think that there’s too much work.  Or, they would like to suggest this.”  We’ll know the majority, and we can go to the staff and change it so it’s more efficient.  So, that is one of my ideas to make Almond Acres Middle School more efficient. 

So, thank you for your time, and I hope that you have a wonderful weekend. 

Girl in denim shirt

Gracie Elliot 

Good morning, everybody.  My name is Gracie Elliot.  I am running for middle school president along with Hannah, Brandon, Troy, and Lucas.  I am really looking forward to possibly being your president.  I hope you are as well.   

As you know, the junior high president position will help make decisions for everyone’s benefit and work hard to make our middle school better.  My reasoning behind running for president is making sure you have a trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring representative you can all agree with. 

But I would also like to make this year fun for all of you. 

Speaking of fun, I would like to share my ideas on how to possibly make our distance learning or our upcoming hybrid experience a blast.  Especially for all the eighth graders that will be moving forward onto high school next year.  So, my first idea, which I know some of you agree on, is getting to interact with the younger students throughout the school.  We have done it before and I think we should be able to do it again. 

For instance, little buddies.  I do know that the sixth graders are doing something similar with Ms. Reid, but we could easily include all of middle school.  So, if I am elected to represent our middle school, I will happily work my hardest for us to have something like that again. 

Also, I do know, and you should too, that if I become the president I will try to encourage clubs, more interactive activities that won’t interfere with our schoolwork.  I also have ideas to include electives that will encourage students to do more with their education.  Imagine our school having virtual or COVID-safe music shows put on by our junior high.  And maybe even art shows, not just paintings, but small architectural structures, clothes, blueprints, crafts, designs, and much more put on by our very own junior high school elective system. 

We could have clubs, like debate teams, an art club, a bible study, made by us.  I have so many plans in mind, and the only way that all of this could happen is that I represent our middle school team with your help.  So, I proudly ask you to make the right decision and vote for Gracie as Middle School President. 

girl in green shirt

Hannah Bourgault

Hi, My name is Hannah Bourgault. I have been a student at AACA since it opened in 2012 when I started kindergarten. This is my third year being on the leadership team and I would like to be your middle school president and help us stay close while we are distant learning. 

You might be thinking,” Why do you want to be middle school president?” Well, I have an answer!  I want to be president because I’ve been at his school for more than 8 years and it’s done so much for me and I want to give back and give you more fun and enriching activities. 

And now you’re probably wondering why you should vote for me? Well, I have an answer for that one too! So as you already know, I want to make our school life more fun during this weird and tough time and I can only do this with your input. As your president, I will listen to your ideas and opinions. After I have your input, I will put your ideas into action. I will speak up and represent our middle school student body. 

I know how to be a leader, I am confident and respectful and I would be honored to serve as Almond Acres very first middle school president. My name is Hannah Bourgault and my mom and dad approve this message! 

boy in black shirt

Lucas Vertrees 

As many of you may already know, I am Lucas Vertrees, running for middle school president.  I am running because I  feel some things at school need to be changed, and I’m someone who can get things changed.   

Also, I think my personality fits the role because I’m not scared to speak up about things that need to be done, especially when it’s a teacher.  When a job needs to be done, I’m someone who can do that. 

If you elect me, I will strive to put more snacks of your choice into the Snack Shack, like maybe fruit snacks.  Whatever it is, you will be the one who decides. 

Another thing that I will set into motion is an electronic club that includes lots of soldering, 3D printing, and much more.  And in case you were wondering, “What’s soldering?”  It’s where you have this really hot pen and metal and you make circuit boards, and it’s pretty cool. 

And, finally, thank you all and have a nice day. 

Troy Dawson, Jr. 

Hi!  I’m Troy Dawson.  A lot of you might know me as T.J.  I’ve been to this school since I was in kindergarten in 2012. 

And as a candidate, I want to help my fellow students have a choice in what happens, and I want all of you to feel like you have a choice in what happens in your school experience.  I’m going to make your voice heard. 

I haven’t gotten much of a chance to talk to students about issues that affect us as a middle school, but one big issue I know about.  A vote for me is a vote for all.  One big issue is COVID-19.  How I want to fix COVID-19 is, I want to help students who don’t have WiFi, or students who would much rather have more hands-on work and activities by giving them more hands-on, physical work rather than online work in all subjects.  I want to create a sign-up sheet for physical work. 

A vote for me is a vote for all. 

Cheers to these amazing kids. Such courage, grace and wisdom! And now, a video interview with our newly elected student council president… Hannah Bourgault!

About Almond Acres: 

Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!