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Toledo School for Arts plans celebration of $1M upgrade

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    Zach Kasee, 13, talks to math teacher Carol Bell at the Toledo School for the Arts. Upgrades at the school put middle-school students on a separate floor from high-school students.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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    Porter

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    Christina Pietrzak, 12, of Toledo joins other students for dance class at the Toledo School for the Arts. Renovation of 22,000 square feet at the downtown building took nine weeks to complete and enabled the charter school to increase enrollment.

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Toledo-School-for-Arts-plans-celebration-of-1M-upgrade

Christina Pietrzak, 12, of Toledo joins other students for dance class at the Toledo School for the Arts. Renovation of 22,000 square feet at the downtown building took nine weeks to complete and enabled the charter school to increase enrollment.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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With its shiny wood floors and mirrors lining one wall, the first-floor dance studio at the Toledo School for the Arts looks as though it doesn't belong in a school, Jacob Parr, a senior, said.

"It's a lot more official," the 17-year-old student said yesterday during a break from his modern dance class. "It has a different feel."

The dance studio, along with 10 new classrooms, a theater, gallery, and technology lab on the first floor of the school at 14th Street and Madison Avenue, was part of a $1 million, 22,000-square-foot renovation funded by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and Local Initiatives Support Corp., said Martin Porter, the school's director.

The roof also was replaced.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the school today to celebrate the renovation as well as the school's 10-year anniversary.

Toledo-School-for-Arts-plans-celebration-of-1M-upgrade-2

Zach Kasee, 13, talks to math teacher Carol Bell at the Toledo School for the Arts. Upgrades at the school put middle-school students on a separate floor from high-school students.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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The charter school has occupied the third and fourth floors of the building for five years and recently purchased the basement and first floors, which previously were used by the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Academy. The second floor is used by two private businesses, Mr. Porter said.

The renovation, completed in about nine weeks, has allowed for enrollment growth of 20 students in each grade level, bringing the total enrollment to 517 students, Mr. Porter said.

He said the school has grown much faster than anticipated.

"We're thankful to be where we are," he said.

With the additional classroom space on the first floor, the middle school and high-school students' academic classes are now separated by floors.

Middle-school students are on the first floor while high-school students are on the third floor.

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Porter

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Carol Bell, who teaches seventh and eighth-grade math, said the separation has helped the younger students better adjust by being surrounded with students their own age.

Ms. Bell, a teacher with Toledo School for the Arts for eight years, said she has been in four different classrooms throughout the years and is pleased with the size of her new one on the first floor.

"It's bright. It's big. It's clean. It's new." Ms. Bell said. "I've never had that much room - ever."

Elizabeth Koppenol, 17, said she, too, is impressed with the renovations at the school.

"I didn't expect it to look this way," she said.

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