CCA's flexible schedule allows recent grad to pursue passion for music

Ric Haas and his band, MACH22, have opened for Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses.

Not many people can say they opened for Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses before they graduated high school, but Commonwealth Charter Academy graduate Ric Haas can.

Ric Haas, 18, of Delaware County, is the youngest member of MACH22, a band steadily gaining popularity in the Philadelphia region.

“My first gig with the band was actually opening for Guns N' Roses at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia,” said Ric, who recently graduated from CCA as a member of the class of 2017. “That was crazy because one, I am a big Eagles fan, so to play where they play was like a dream come true, and then two, Guns N' Roses is one of my all-time favorite bands.”

CCA provides a unique flexibility that has allowed Ric to be both a student and a rising star on the stage.

Ric’s flexible schedule lets him do his homework when it’s convenient for him: on the road, on the weekends, and late at night when he’s still wide awake after a performance. When Ric has interviews or television appearances, he knows his teachers will work with him to stay on track.

“At CCA, there’s no pressure to get things done by a certain date; they are really ... flexible when it comes to getting your work done,” Ric said. “A lot of my teachers knew my situation and they were very understanding.”

Ric’s unwavering love for music began when he was about 10. From the moment he picked up a guitar, he could think of nothing else. He rushed through chores and schoolwork to give himself more time to practice. His parents recall finding him asleep, guitar still in hand, on several occasions.

“He would go down in the basement, pull up YouTube and put something on, and literally in a minute he would be able to play it — all self-taught,” said Frank Haas, Ric's father.

Musical passion was something Ric came by honestly. His father was a lover of rock and listened constantly to AC/DC, while his maternal grandfather played guitar and handed down his appreciation for classes, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Frank believes that Ric’s natural talent was passed down from his grandfather.

Ric approached his parents about transferring to CCA before his freshman year of high school. His parents were hesitant about cyber schooling, but after Ric’s first few months, they embraced CCA fully.

“Frank and I were both blown away by the dedication of these teachers and how well they try to bridge the gap,” said Michelena, Ric’s mother. “It feels like he goes to a regular school everyday because that’s the structure we chose for him.”

“After seeing how well Ric did so quickly, and how he had more one-on-one interaction with his teachers at CCA than he ever did in eight years at a regular school, we were amazed by how well the teachers knew Ric and his learning style without ever meeting him in person,” Frank said. “He would have never had these opportunities to follow his music passion if it wasn’t for CCA.”

Ric’s interests aren’t limited to the music industry. He said that ever since he can remember he has loved to learn, but he didn’t always get the best grades. He often wrestled against the traditional workflow implemented by his public education at a brick-and-mortar school. However, Ric’s academics flourished when he switched to CCA because he could take classes that genuinely interested him and do his work his own way in his own time.

Ric enjoyed having the opportunity to take business courses his senior year. He felt they were lessons he could apply not only to the real world, but also to his band and the music industry.

“The subjects I think about most or the topics I consider to be the things that matter most in the real world would probably be the stuff I’ve learned at CCA,” Ric said.

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Graduate