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Last week, the Dispatch reported that York Academy Regional Charter School had purchased the property that used to house Pensupreme Dairy on North Beaver Street and North George Street along Hamilton Avenue.

The purchase price of $695,000, according to Michael Lowe, the supervisor of instructional development at York Academy, includes the former dairy, its smokestack and 28,100 square feet, which the Academy plans to turn into a high school to educate 75 students per grade.

This is important not only because the academy will turn a long-abandoned building into an active and thriving part of the city, but also because 80 percent of students in the school’s lower grades are from York City, with the other 20 percent coming from Central York and York Suburban school districts.

According to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for students attending the York City School District was $13,433, and the family median income was $30,712. This falls well below the rest of the commonwealth, where the median family income was $49,501 during this time.

According to a report from YorkCounts.org, 100 percent of the students in the city school district are eligible for free lunch, which is well above the 44 percent average in the rest of Pennsylvania.

Needless to say, there is much more on the minds of students than education. But that just shows why an investment in education — whether it’s from public schools or charter schools such as York Academy — is so important.

More than ever, education is the key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Besides the obvious advantage it provides for job-seekers, a good education also factors into issues of health (physical, emotional and mental) and empowerment for children — especially inner-city kids.

For instance, education sometimes provides kids with the only structured time in their day with adults they can trust and depend on, and sometimes it’s the only place they get two meals a day.

The education setting is also very important in teaching students mindfulness, growth mindset, goal-setting and resilience because many inner-city kids who are living in poverty have high incidences of adverse childhood experiences, according to "Teaching with Poverty in Mind,” by Eric Jensen.

High adverse childhood experiences correlate with heart disease, drug use, alcoholism, depression and early death, Jensen writes. Proper, coordinated services from the school community and a well-trained staff can help combat the possible negative effects of adverse childhood experiences.

There are more examples of how education can break the cycle of poverty. It spurs the economy and reduces spread of diseases such as AIDS. And schools really help when they empower teachers, involve parents and have doctors, psychologists and counselors available at the schools.

No one can learn, Jensen writes, if they are unhealthy and overwhelmed by life circumstances.

So with the investment in York Academy, both in the redevelopment of an old, unused dairy  and with the kids of the city, perhaps the truly vicious cycle can someday be broken.

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