A new private school geared towards athletes is planned for Charlottetown this September.

The Mount Academy has received a license to operate a Grade 7 to 12 private school from the Department of Education. 

The provincial curriculum would be taught and balanced with a special focus on skill development in sports .

It will be the first institution of its kind on the Island — a main factor when founder Kenny MacDougall started thinking about setting it up.

"You know there's all kinds of instances of 13- and 14-year-old kids going away so they can get those extra on hours of ice time those extra skills," he said.

"My idea was to maybe perhaps keep people here a little bit longer … offer something for families that say 'Hey you know what we can do this right in our own backyard.'"

Leave of absence

MacDougall is the principal at Stratford Elementary School and said he has let staff know that he may not be returning in the fall.

"If numbers warrant, and this is as successful as we think it may be, then I'd have to inform people that I'm going to take a leave of absence for the year," he said.

Tuition for the upcoming school year will be $7,500, which he said is in line with other private schools in the region.

Kenny MacDougall

Kenny MacDougall started the school with the hope that kids interested in honing their hockey skills won't have to leave the Island. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

'Open to grow'

McDougall said that the school is starting out with a cohort of Grade 9 and 10 students that are hockey players.

The school plans to expand to include Grade 8 and 11 students in the 2018-19 school year, and add Grade 7 and 12 in 2019-20.

If there is enough interest, however, MacDougall said Grades 7, 8, 11, and 12 could be added for this September.

He added that sports groups have contacted him and that the school could support athletes from other sports.

"We're open to grow, and we don't want to be just a one-sport academy."​

'Pushing each other'

MacDougall said that a private academy like this has benefits in both the athletic and academic side of things.  

"It's effective in terms of motivation, knowing that you're going to school and you're going to get to participate in things you have a strong passion for," he said.

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The Mount Academy will take a balanced approach to academics and athletics says founder Kenny MacDougall. (Lucky Business/Shutterstock)

"You're able to have a like-minded group of individuals highly motivated, striving, pushing each other each day in terms of academics."

'Every kid should dream'

MacDougall said that balance will be emphasized at the academy, even though it does have a focus on athletics compared to other schools.

"We'll be offering provincial curriculum with our own tweaks and modifications," he said.

"But we want to make sure that these students are solidly prepared to enter any post secondary institution in the area."

He said a lot of the students at Mount Academy will be thinking of making a career of playing sports, and while he doesn't want to temper expectations he recognizes the odds are against them.

"I think every kid should dream, every kid should strive to reach their goals no matter how high or lofty that they are," he said.

"We never want to take those aspirations away from students ever, or athletes. I think the real piece is the education piece."

With files from CBC: Island Morning