If all goes as expected, by this time next year the first students will be attending the Arts Academy Charter School, a newly planned regional middle school for the performing arts.
Plans for the new school were announced Tuesday by Tom Lubben, founder and retired superintendent for the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts.
The school will offer a traditional middle-school curriculum, taught by Pennsylvania certified teachers, supplemented with an immersion arts program taught by professionals in six areas—dance, theater, instrumental and vocal music, visual arts and figure skating.
Unlike the high school model, students will not “major” in any particular discipline, but will explore in depth two branches of the arts that interest them, identified through the admissions and interview process, Lubben said.
“This is not the age of specialization, fifth through eighth grade,” he said.
The Arts Academy hopes to start with 300 students and eventually grow the school to 400.
“Small is better, by the way. That is what we discovered at LVPA,” Lubben added. “Children get lost in a school of 2000.”
While the middle school will not be officially affiliated with the regional performing arts high school, Lubben said he expects that a lot of the future students from the Arts Academy will choose to attend the arts high school when they finish eighth grade.
A location for the educational facility has not yet been chosen, and Lubben declined to discuss possible sites, saying the school is in talks with several developers. School officials are looking for a 40,000-square-foot site, with room for 16 to 20 classrooms, he added.
“Bethlehem is a central location, but other districts are possible,” he said, adding he expects the site will be chosen soon -- in time for the school to submit its charter plan by its target date of Nov. 15.
The charter will be applied for in more than one district to make the school a regional venture, Lubben said, and any student in Pennsylvania will be eligible to attend.
“Our school, as an emerging school of the arts, will be very special,” he said.
Current fourth through seventh grade students are eligible to apply for enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year. Enrollment is limited.
The school also plans on hiring administrators, office staff, custodians, security, teachers and lead teachers.
More information can be found on the school's new website, www.ArtsAcademyCharterSchool.org or by calling 610-403-8888.