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A School With No Building

Israel and Isaac Ballweber attend OLA

41 students in downtown Oklahoma City don't have a school building. The world is their classroom. They're not focused on grades, instead they're becoming "architects of repair." It's a term heard all the time at the Odyssey Leadership Academy (OLA).

These young men and women are ending an eight week History and English course on Racial Reconciliation taught by a team of experts.

"An English teacher, a historian, and a math teacher," said Scott Martin, Founder and Executive Director at OLA. "We probably had a dozen people from the community come in."

These students have mentors who are there for every step in this educational journey. They meet every morning.

"We really get somebody to look up to and somebody that can like pour (guidance and wisdom) into our lives," said Lynlee Coffee, a freshman student. "They're a positive influence."

The students are challenged to take what they've learned about Racism in America and display it using their talents. Instead of tests, students write about and perform what they've learned.

In addition to rap and singing original songs, there's art and musical instruments.

Because there's no school building, students meet at the downtown library, the Devon Center, museums, and dance studios. They go, where they'll best learn.

"They really want what you want," said Javion Wisby, a freshman at OLA. "The virtue, the character, the compassion, and all that will come with it."

"This school really teaches you and develops you into who you want to be, rather than what you want to do," said Israel Ballweber, a senior who's returning for an additional year of training.

"They know what they believe, why they believe it, they know why they're here in this world, and they know how they want to impact the world for good," said Laurie Ballweber, a parent of two OLA students. "It's not a traditional education."

"It's really powerful to see what happens when you set students loose and you set them free, (because you'll see) how they'll step up and do it," said Martin. "Today was just an unbelievable exhibition of that."

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