SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – In one Upstate school, student growth in academic achievement landed them the best rating on the state report card in 24 years. This is a first for the school and a historic achievement that was celebrated on Monday.

Cleveland Academy of Leadership was against the odds, Principal Marquice Clark says many of his students live in poverty.

“Cleveland once ranked as one of the not only Spartanburg County worst performing schools but also the state as well as the nation we were considered bottom ten of all schools in the entire nation.”

However, this was a cycle that the school was determined to break and to turn around for everybody involved.

“This took a combined effort of community members, business leaders as well as local congregations to come together to the table and say it is time, we create real change for our students.”

New creative solutions were implemented and provided for students and families.

“We instituted continuous improvement with our instructional program,” Clark said. “We created opportunities for families to come into the building by offering a laundry facility.”

“We earned our first satisfactory rating last year with a report card reading of average”

On Monday the school gathered to see its grade for 2023. The crowd was full of emotions as it was revealed that the school scored an excellent rating for their growth in achievement.

“We were still able to do what many thought was impossible,” Clark said to the room. “For the first time in 24 years, we earned our very first excellent school report card grade..”

This is truly a grade that is making the community proud.

“This area was a distressed community and historically it has been distressed.” Phoenix Miller, a community member and Northside Voyager said. “Each year we see it rise, rise and rise from that to now they have the best schooling they had in decades and our community is thriving it beautiful.”

A statue was also revealed in the green space in front of Cleveland Academy on Monday honoring the dedication the Northside Voyagers have made to help improve the area.