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The first high school in the Banning Lewis Ranch area opened Aug. 7, when the $17 million Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, a new charter school for grades 6-12, started classes.

The school at 9433 Vista Del Pico Blvd. will serve grades 6-9 in the 2017-18 school year. The school will add a grade level each year until this year's freshmen class becomes seniors in 2020-21, eventually serving more than 1,000 students. The school has 460 students and a staff of 26 classroom teachers for the 2017-18 school year. The curriculum in the new school is focused on college preparation.

With the opening of the Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, Banning Lewis Ranch Academy will become a kindergarten through fifth grade school with 790 students and 25 teachers.

Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy was built to accommodate the growth in the 25,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch area and give families with students a high school option, said Todd Morse, who heads the two-school system.

Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy will offer a full slate of after-school activities, including band, theater, fine arts and athletics. Although all 10 Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned sports will be offered, the new school will not compete at the varsity level in any sport until at least the 2018-2019 school year.

The new school will share a site with a new Falcon School District 49 elementary school that is scheduled to open in August 2019. The $23.5 million school likely will hold about 600 students.About two-thirds of the Banning Lewis Ranch is in District 49 with the rest in Widefield School District 3.

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