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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nashua’s Gate City Charter School for the Arts ready for its debut

Tina Forbes

MERRIMACK – Among New Hampshire’s four new charter schools opening across the state this fall is an arts-oriented K-8 charter school in Merrimack. The new Gate City Charter School for the Arts plans to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Thursday at 10 a.m. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, school staff, families and other volunteers came together to complete the facility. Gate City’s debut year begins Tuesday, Sept. 2.

The school occupies 17,850 square feet at 7 Henry Clay Drive in Merrimack, across the street from the entrance to the YMCA. Gate City will ultimately include grades K-8, although for its first year it will limit enrollment to 140 students in grades K-6. “We will add grade 7 in 2015 with up to 160 total students, and add grade 8 in 2016, with up to 180 total students,” according to an August statement released by the school. ...

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MERRIMACK – Among New Hampshire’s four new charter schools opening across the state this fall is an arts-oriented K-8 charter school in Merrimack. The new Gate City Charter School for the Arts plans to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Thursday at 10 a.m. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, school staff, families and other volunteers came together to complete the facility. Gate City’s debut year begins Tuesday, Sept. 2.

The school occupies 17,850 square feet at 7 Henry Clay Drive in Merrimack, across the street from the entrance to the YMCA. Gate City will ultimately include grades K-8, although for its first year it will limit enrollment to 140 students in grades K-6. “We will add grade 7 in 2015 with up to 160 total students, and add grade 8 in 2016, with up to 180 total students,” according to an August statement released by the school.

Gate City is a public charter school with an arts-integrated curriculum, which means the curriculum uses drama, dance, movement, music and visual arts to engage students. Academics are integrated with the arts through project-based learning. For instance, one lesson plan calls for students to raise live butterflies and record their observations in writing and through other media, such as sculpture and paint.

Karin Cevasco, chairperson and founding member of the school, said the school will not only open with its targeted enrollment of 140 students, but with another 200 already on the waiting list. About 70 percent of the student body hails from Nashua.

Cevasco said Gate City teachers have been working off-site in space borrowed from the Academy of Science and Design, a Nashua-based charter school. Administrators moved into the building last Friday.

In the final days leading up to opening day, parents and community members are chipping in to ready the interior of the school, she said. “There has been a lot of progress in just a few days. People are coming in and out, but we’ve had well over 20 volunteers helping out.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gate City staff will present the “Gate City Charter School STAR Award” to an individual or business whose efforts have contributed to the school’s success. Gate City plans to make the presentation of the “STAR Award” an annual event.

Participants will have a chance to tour the school facility following the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Gate City had originally explored space in the former Dartmouth-Hitchcock building on West Hollis Street in Nashua this spring. Plans fell through at the last minute because of high renovation costs, prompting the move to Merrimack. The school’s opening brings the number of charter schools in the state up to 22.

More information about the school can be found at www.gatecitycharterschool.org.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).