Richmond, VA (WRIC) – Higher Achievement hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at Binford Middle School to officially introduce the new achievement center.

Higher Achievement is a non-profit organization that offers an after-school and summer program working year-round with underserved middle school students to give them the tools they need to be successful and close the opportunity gap.

Tuesday morning, fifth and sixth graders enrolled in the higher achievement program were already in the achievement center classrooms learning four different subjects (science, math, social studies, and literature) for the upcoming school year.

“It’s hands on learning so we don’t do grading there’s no A’s, B’s, or F’s, it’s projects,” Ronee Davis, the center director of the Binford Middle School’s achievement center said. “They have an opportunity to do large group and small group learning as well as individual reading so that they can better prepare themselves for the SOL tests that are to come.”

Last year, Binford Middle School reopened as the first arts-integrated middle school in the state after it was in jeopardy of closing due to low enrollment and poor test scores.

As a graduate of Binford Middle School, Davis said her work through Higher Achievement and her role in the school’s center is full circle.

“With the arts-integrated program that the principal, Melissa Rickey, has in place here and including Higher Achievement into that plan, we know that Binford has the ability to be the best,” Davis said. “Her (Rickey) team has not only worked with Higher Achievement but with her teaching staff to ensure that their scholars or students are prepared in the classroom and out of the classroom.”

Soon-to-be Sixth Grader Milena Brown is among the 45 students enrolled in the Binford Middle School’s achievement center program this summer. Brown said the program gives her and her classmates the freedom to learn through interactive games and special electives, while preparing them for a brighter future ahead.

“Sometimes we do games like just now we played Jeopardy and we had fun,” Brown said. “It’s preparing me for next year for Middle School.”

This is the third center Higher Achievement has opened with Richmond Public Schools and one center in Henrico county. Davis said more than 300 students in Richmond alone are enrolled in achievement centers this summer and the nonprofit hopes to see the centers and their students continue to grow.

“With the work that we’ve done this summer with the Binford students and the work that we’ll do in the school year we’re only going to continue to go forward here,” Davis said.Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.