From NYC to South Florida to Boston, XPA Alumna Thrives at Emerson College

Halfway through her junior year, Clarisa Carrillo moved to South Florida from New York City where she had attended a large high school in Manhattan. She knew she didn’t want to start over at a similar-sized school or have to commute an hour each way like she had in New York, so when she heard about Xceed Preparatory Academy, she was anxious to check it out.

“At my old school in New York, we were locked in from 8-4; we weren’t allowed to leave during the day at all,” Clarisa said. “When I toured the Weston campus of XPA, it felt so inviting and welcoming, and I was able to meet Mr. Bass, the Head of School. For me, this was amazing because, at my old school, I didn’t even know our principal despite being there for more than two years.”

Clarisa was quickly won over by XPA’s supportive staff, flexible scheduling and personalizing learning.

“As soon as I heard about flexible schedules, I was all in,” she said. “I was a dancer outside of school, so the opportunity to make my own school schedule was a game-changer.”

“I also have ADHD,” continued Clarisa, “and having to sit in uncomfortable seats being lectured to all day at my old school was not working for me. XPA’s campuses are set up with comfortable seating arrangements, you can plan out your days with the support of the teachers and you can have lunch or order in Door Dash when you are ready to eat—not when the bell dictates. XPA simply makes the environment incredibly conducive to learning.”

Unlike the traditional school model where students take 45- or 75-minute block classes on the same bell-and-lunch structure, Xceed Preparatory Academy students plan their classes around their own schedules, can study courses for as long as they need and switch to other courses when they are ready to advance. 

“The personalized learning plan at XPA was made for me,” Clarisa shared. “It allowed me to choose what I was doing, and I was also given much-needed time to think and self-reflect on what I wanted to do after high school. I was able to better understand myself, my skills and my goals.” 

Other schools design their curriculum for the “typical” student on a bell curve average, whereas at Xceed Preparatory Academy, every student creates a personalized learning plan with their Head of School that is tailored to their learning needs and future goals—and refined with their teachers as they make progress.

In terms of formal structure, XPA students are placed in traditional grade levels, however each campus is small by design with no more than 35 to 50 students on campus at a time. This creates a tight-knit learning community where students always have access to teachers and school administrators who know them personally and clearly understand their learning needs and goals.

“Mr. Bass, the Head of School, was my driving force,” said Clarisa. “Every day, he would come up to me, ask about my studies, how I was feeling, what I was up to. He made me feel important and cared about. And my XPA teachers were always so supportive and encouraging, giving me the opportunity to thrive.”

“XPA offers students a small, supportive community that is entirely focused on you and helping you succeed,” continued Clarisa. “I wish I would have been able to attend sooner, but I am grateful for the time I had there.”

Clarisa is currently a freshman at Emerson College in Boston where she is majoring in political communications with aspirations of attending law school post-graduation. She was recently featured on television for her insight into young voters during the 2020 election and stays in touch with Mr. Bass and her XPA teachers.