ACEL makes Downtown Fresno its new home

FRESNO, Calif.

Dilapidated buildings in downtown Fresno are giving way to new structures and life.

"It's valuable to the city to have a group of young people who aren't afraid to be downtown and cherish downtown," ACEL Principal Dave Childers said.

Nearly 150 students with the academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership or ACEL will move into the historic Fresno station building at the end of august.

'It will serve office workers nearby, downtown neighborhoods," Craig Scharton said.

A student resource center to be located here will connect needy families to resources like social services.

"We face so many issues such as poverty we will also provide education to parents," Director of the Resource Center Connie Provencio said.

The charter school began at the boys and girls club in central Fresno, and until recently school officials were in negotiations with the city to move into the Fresno Met museum building. Students say they've thrived in the alternative learning environment.

'I get better grades … where teachers pay more attention to you," Alondra Cruz said.

The sound of a train nearly three times a day is a reminder of the building's history. The Fresno station was built in 1889 and served as a ticket station for passenger and cargo trains. "I love the exposed brick, the ornate ceilings," Childers said.

But soon $150,000 in renovations will go toward knocking down interior walls to create classrooms. "It's really cool, really open," Cruz said.

Students say they're excited about learning in an urban environment.

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