More than 150 people attended a ribbon cutting last Saturday for Granite State Arts Academy, the newest charter school in Derry.
Founding board member Wendie Leweck said the ribbon cutting, preceded by live music and a barbecue, marked the official opening of the school at 16 Route 111, Building 4. The school will begin its 2014-15 session with a half-day orientation Aug. 27, followed by its first full day of classes Aug. 28.
The event Saturday included students, parents, trustees and faculty, Leweck said. The school was open for tours “and the excitement palpable,” Leweck said in a phone interview Monday.
The school has a rigorous academic curriculum aligned with New Hampshire state standards and also an emphasis on the arts, Leweck said. It offers special rooms for dance, music and the visual arts, and students are required, in addition to academics, to take a “major” and a “minor” in one of the arts. The school day will be 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, with a half-day on Fridays to allow for teacher preparation and interaction. The teacher interaction is necessary, Leweck said, because the school’s aim is to integrate the arts with academics.
Leweck, who has been in on the project from the beginning, said she was especially heartened to see the interaction between students. “I watched them exchange phone numbers,” she said. “When they walk through the door on the 27th, they’ll have friends.”
Though the students come from far-flung areas including Manchester, Newfields, Exeter and Hollis, they are bound by the “common thread” of their interest in the arts, she said.
The school will open with 60 students spread over the four years of high school, according to Leweck.
Because the school is a public school, it is still accepting applications and will accept them throughout the year, Leweck said.
The school is not able to offer transportation during its first year, and parents are forming carpools, Leweck said.
Though she’s worked hard on forming the school, Leweck will not have a student in that first set of classes. Her older son is 17 and has chosen to finish high school where he is, she said.
“He was the impetus for me doing this, but because it took so much time, he missed it by a year or two,” she said. Her younger son is entering seventh grade and has expressed interest in Granite State Arts Academy for high school, she said.
For more information on Granite State Arts Academy, visit www.granitestateartsacademy.com.