COLUMBUS, Ga. – Hundreds of Muscogee County students will be able to get a specialized education in the arts over the next few years. The school district broke ground on a new Fine and Performing Arts Academy Saturday.
The new school is a crowd-pleaser to the RiverCenter’s Rick McKnight. He fell in love with the arts at age 11 when someone gave his mom a free ticket to the Columbus Symphony.
“We went. It was in a building. It was raining and it was raining in the building. I looked up there and saw the conductor and the instruments and the brass. It just clicked. I loved it,” McKnight said.
He is excited Columbus will be mixing his love for the arts with education.
The school will hold up to 500 students in grades six through 12. Middle school enrollment will be open to students district wide. High school students will have to go audition or go through a portfolio process to attend.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says the new school will provide an opportunity to balance STEM education with an education in the arts.
“They’re showing that creativity and the public education system is leading to enhanced jobs, enhanced testing scores, with students,” Tomlinson said.
McKnight is excited about arts-integrated education using the arts to teach core curriculum.
“Musicians who know about physics and geometry, mathematics are better. It informs their whole life and it gives them something that they can do,” McKnight said.
The school will offer programs including band, chorus, orchestra and creative writing. It will also offer a different experience to students in developing their futures.
The $36 million dollar project is funded by the passage of the ESPLOST in 2003, 2009, and 2015. The school district expects the project to be done in the next 17 to 18 months. It will be located on Midtown Drive.