LAKEWOOD RANCH — Thirteen-year-old J.D. Kurman’s eyes lit up with excitement as he stood in The Out-of-Door Academy’s new black box theater.
“I love it — the whole (arts facility), but especially this,” said Kurman, who performed in two plays last year. “It’s so great to have a place to perform.”
As students at ODA’s Upper School ushered in the new school year Aug. 26, they also celebrated the opening of the new Art Center with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $5.3 million facility includes a 250-seat black box theater, art gallery, a choral room, a ceramics studio, three music practice rooms and a scene shop.
“This is a very important day for our school,” Head of School David Mahler said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “The arts are something that help define who we are. Today, we usher in a whole new era of who we are at ODA.”
The 25,000-square-foot addition is 800 times the size of the school’s current space for arts classes and adds 25% to the size of both campuses combined.
“It’s so much more than I dreamed or imagined,” Choral and Instrumental Director Dr. Lisa Rosser said as she pointed out one of two new grand pianos donated for the facility. “We can do so much more.”
Parents echoed the enthusiasm.
“We think this is a college-level facility,” said Patty Wilson. “It’s great to have a school that allows kids to have those (art) experiences.”
Mahler said ODA’s investment in arts amakes an important statement about its educational values and priorities, especially against the backdrop of a recession and at a time when schools throughout the country are cutting art programs.
“(The arts are) another great opportunity for students to shine, be creative, to be independent and think and to interpret the work world around them,” he said.
School leaders also are especially proud of the building’s use of green technology, which includes the use of soybean insulation, recycled carpet, high-reflectivity roofing to prevent solar heat gain, roof insulation, low-emissive coating on windows and light sensors, among other features.
The project was designed by FleischmanGarcia Architecture and constructed by Willis A. Smith Construction.
As the school celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, it also will host ribbon-cutting ceremonies for its new athletic facilities, which will include a football field, tennis courts and other facilities when completed.
ODA began its $15 million fundraising campaign for the new arts and athletic centers about four years ago. To date, it has collected nearly $13 million.
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