Pictured: Marissa and Laryssa Anderson, alumna of Chandler Park Academy - click to enlarge

At Chandler Park Academy, a public K-12 charter school in the Detroit area, students regularly graduate with one or two years’ worth of college credit, along with significant college scholarships.

“We try to make sure that our students, if they have the heart and passion to take part in something, that finances don’t get in the way,” Evelyn Shropshire, the building administrator for Chandler Park High School, said. In fact, Chandler Park’s class of 2015 graduated with more than $11 million in college scholarships.

Chandler Park is one of three outstanding public charter schools that the Mackinac Center will be featuring through online videos this fall. Over the past year, charter schools have been the subject of some intense media scrutiny and political criticism. But critics do not mention the fact that charter school students post greater academic gains than their conventional-school peers. They also ignore the tremendous impact charter schools have had in students’ lives.

In July, the Mackinac Center brought out a film crew to shoot interviews with students, parents, teachers and principals at Chandler Park and two other high-performing charter schools. In their own unique way, each of these schools provides students with an opportunity they would not have had in their conventional school district.

Star International Academy, one of the schools the Mackinac Center will be highlighting, serves a number of students from immigrant families. Nawal Hamadeh, the founder of the school, said, “I recognized that there are some students, their needs are not met. And it’s those parents who wanted to have a choice.”

Star International boasts a 100 percent graduation rate, and students often receive more college scholarships than students at other schools in the area.

These are Michigan charter schools that have changed students’ lives. Their stories are powerful.