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Chandler school gives talented students a chance to shine

Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 22:08:40-04

A Chandler Unified School District program is offering personalized education for 3rd through 8th grade students who compete at high levels in a variety of activities that require long practice hours or travel.

“We have athletes, actors, dancers, we have nationally ranked BMXer’s,” said Jennifer Young, the principal at Elite Performance Academy Humphrey Campus in Chandler. “So, they are able to come a little bit earlier in the day, have a more compact schedule here at school and then their afternoons are free."

Students are made free to put in the major work it takes to compete at the highest levels. Twelve-year-old Taylor Underhill is one of them. The aspiring professional golfer hits the books hard from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. before jumping on a school bus that drops her off at her specified practice facility. The school partners with more than 60 facilities in the Valley.

“If you want to play a sport like this, you really have to have some dedication and you have to put the time and effort to be able to be good at it,” said Underhill.

She definitely puts in the work, and she is extremely good. She's representing Arizona at the U.S. Kids Junior World Championship at Pinehurst in North Carolina this week.

“The schedule with EPA has really helped me get out here sooner and be able to put in more hours,” said Underhill.

The academics are rigorous but the flexibility of schedule and of course the transportation certainly has her game in the right place and her parents feeling thankful.

“It allows her to practice more and academically she’s able to still excel and get the same academics she would at a regular school,” said her father, Jerry.

It's a concept being explored by more parents than ever before. Giving talented students like Taylor the tools she needs to reach for her dreams.

“This school has helped me improve a ton and I can really see a difference, it’s just incredible,” said Underhill.