Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences celebrated its completed campus in Sarasota's Rosemary District Tuesday after two years of construction and more than a decade in the works.
The charter school features a 43,000-square-foot classroom building, a 10,000- square-foot gymnasium plus another building for instruction that students call "the tower."
The school began through conversations with a group around the dinner table of Susan Burns and public defender Laurence Eger in 1994, leading to the opening of the school in 1997.
"We talked about emphasizing the arts and the sciences because we do have an incredibly successful arts community here and we have a beautiful environment here," said founding board member Devin Rutkowski. "We even talked about a teaching academy that once this school became widly successful, we would actually take information, procedures and policies and actually teach teachers across the country what you're doing right here at SSAS."
Eger said the school that was once a dream is now a reality.
"Fifty children walked into a rented space on Tuttle Avenue with the promise of the best education for all children," Eger said during Tuesday's grand opening. "A promise made to these children, to their parents and to their community."
Students must be in the 5th grade to enroll, and then if eligible, a lottery is conducted. Students can receive enrollment preferences if they are siblings of a student enrolled at SSAS, if they are a child of a governing board member of the school or are a child of a charter school employee.
The classrooms feature interactive white boards and in-room audio enhancement equipment while the gym features a concession stand, bleachers, retractable backboards, and custom flooring featuring the school's mascot— a tiger.
“The students at SSA+S are so proud of their new school. They love the new gymnasium and the fact that we have an indoor space for PE and our basketball teams to play. Our home games are now, truly, home games where students fill the bleachers. The teachers love their new classrooms and the technology that they have available to them,” said Ms. Tara Tahmosh-Newell, principal of the school. “We feel as if the outside of the school finally reflects what we’ve always had inside.”
In addition to its stellar academic programs, the school also features several specialty programs as part of its “arts and sciences” curriculum.
Here are some of the specialized areas in the school:
- technology-integrated woodworking shop with drafting and design equipment,
- performing arts classroom equipped with a stage and audio/video technology,
- dance studio,
- band classroom,
- several science laboratories,
- special physical education activities such as skateboarding and use of the Nintendo Wii Fit game.
The school is also equipped with 67 surveillance cameras throughout the campus, security fencing and gates that secure the campus duringschool hours, and a visitor screening system that is linked to the county schools’ Raptor system.
The school will also host an annual fundraising gala Saturday, April 13 at Laurel Oak Country Club. For more information, email MichaelReed@ssas.org.
Founding Board Members:
2013 Board Members:
Dr. Marilyn Highland
Heather Zangara Staine
Dr. Raymond Thacker