GCAA Unanimously Approved for Charter Renewal

I am proud to write you this evening after just returning from Jefferson City, MO, where our Missouri State School Board voted unanimously to approve our Charter Renewal for another five years!  Our students, parents, teachers, SLU sponsors, and the resource office are all to be commended for passing of this important milestone.  GCAA logo white backgroundToday’s success reaffirms our conviction that our Charter is a successful model for preparing students for college and career readiness.  Within the next week, we will be sending a course description guide with the classes we plan to offer next year.  It is an exciting time, because this will be the first year with a graduating class.  Our teachers have been working very hard to develop curriculum for new classes we will add to complete our program.  My next communication will include this important information to review before scheduling classes for next year to help our families plan. Attached is the letter confirming the renewal from the Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  See also this additional information. 

Letter from Principal Lynne Glickert regarding new leadership position

Dear GCAA families,
Lynn Glickert

Principal Lynne Glickert

I have wonderful news to share with you. During the December 16 meeting, the Board of Directors of Confluence Charter Schools approved a new leadership position affecting Grand Center Arts Academy for 2014-15 and beyond. The board determined a need for an executive leadership position that will be responsible for providing oversight, strategic planning, continued focus on the mission and vision of the school, fiscal management, human resources, development and fundraising, as well as creating and growing partnerships with civic, business and cultural organizations. The position will enhance the unique opportunities for growth and stability for GCAA, now and in to the future. The Board has offered this position to me and I have enthusiastically accepted. I applaud the Board for recognizing the unique needs of our school. By creating this position, it ensures the long-term success for GCAA. I want to express my gratitude to the Board for the opportunity to serve in this position. The national search for a principal for 2014-15 continues. However, I will now be a part of the search committee and make sure that the new Principal is someone that upholds all that we hold so dear about GCAA, as well as recognizes our challenges as we keep on the path of continuous improvement. Gratefully, Lynne Glickert

Sun Theater Renovation is Underway

By 9th Grader Joel Breeden, member of the Website Reporting Club The Sun Theater, located directly behind the main school building of GCAA, is in the process of becoming GCAA’s own theater for musicals, plays, and concerts featuring GCAA’s orchestra, band, choir, and dance performers. The 30,000 square foot theater will also include three classrooms and a backstage workshop. Along with the other members of the GCAA Website Reporting Club, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Katherine Palmer, GCAA’s Community Development Coordinator, on the topic of the Sun Theater. In 1913, the Sun Theater was established as a 1,800 seat theater known as “The Victoria” or “The German Theater,” and it originally cost $120,000 to build. The first floor of the theater was used for German plays and Operas. The second floor was used as a lecture hall. Because of anti-German sentiment caused by World War I, however, the theater was shut down. After the war, the theater reopened as “The Liberty.” Over the years the theater has been used as a movie theater, vaudeville show, burlesque hall, a night club and apparently even a church. The shows staged in the theater changed throughout the theater’s life right along with the names of the theater; it has been called “The World,” “400 Club,” The Lyn,” and it is currently it is called “The Sun.” In 1981, the theater’s doors closed and they have not reopened since. Even with Grand Center, Inc. buying the land in the early 1990s, the only sign of life has been the big neon sign out front. The theater has been in a great need of a renovation. "The whole place on the inside looks like a bomb went off," according to Ms. Palmer. The photos included with this article demonstrate the extent of renovation work needed. These photos were taken about one month ago by GCAA Website Reporter JuJu Vieth. Ms. Palmer told the Website Reporters a story she heard during a recent tour through the vacant theater: "A man went in there back in the early 1990s and he said that in the middle of the stage, there was just a huge mound of stuff and he had no idea why this mound was in the middle of the stage. Come to find out, it was pigeon poop!" On January 8th, 2013, The Lawrence Group (led by CEO Steve Smith) bought the property, and the renovation of the Sun started on January 9th. The whole process will take between one year and 18 months to complete. This puts the theater’s completion prior to the summer of 2014. The Lawrence Group will serve as the architects for the renovation as well as the general manager and designers. After the renovation, Grand Center Arts Academy will be signing a lease to use the Sun Theater with Landmark Group. In addition to using the Sun for its own performances, GCAA will also rent out its space at the Sun Theater to other schools and civic groups. After the 11.5 million dollar renovation, our two-block area will become more of a school campus. Given that the Sun will include three second-floor classrooms, GCAA students will be using the Sun on a daily basis. There will be a new elevator attached to the building for easier access to the second floor. The Sun will also contain a workshop where GCAA students will learn to build theater sets. Another great opportunity this theater will give our kids will be summer classes. Mrs. Palmer described another possibility: "Imagine if we had a summer class and you studied [Alfred] Hitchcock, and how he made movies and then you tried to recreate a Hitchcock movie and we had this great big screen come down onto the stage. Can you imagine if your video could be shown?" Grand Center Arts Academy was first a dream for teenagers in the St. Louis area to express themselves in the arts. This dream has become more and more a reality. This dream first started in Third Baptist Church, our first home to our students. One year later, the dream picked up and moved one block up to its new and permanent home on North Grand Boulevard. Now, we look forward to the completion of our newest expansion, the Sun Theater. [This article was written by GCAA 9th Grader Joel Breeden, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club]. [slideshowgallery]

GCAA Student, Kyran Walton is an Acrobat, and More…

GCAA student, Kyran Walton, will be performing as an acrobat and unicyclist in the production A Child’s Christmas in Wales, a collaborative production by Circus Flora and the Saint Louis Symphony.   Kyran also performs almost every weekend at City Museum and can be seen in shows there throughout the winter break season. Kyran performs acrobatics, wire, trapeze, contortion and rolling globe. You can see numerous photos of Kyran in action at  www.facebook.com/circusharmony.
In January, Kyran will be a featured performer in Circus Harmony: Capriccio at City Museum January 19, 20, 26 and 27.

GCAA Students Travel to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Rock the House…

On November 8th, GCAA ninth grade students, Antonio Mosley, Daniel Schmidt, DeMarco Saffold and Leo Ramsey along with Dan Rubright, Director of Arts and Community Partnerships and ninth grade science teacher, Fred Warren, drove to Madison, Wisconsin to participate in "Pass the Mic," an annual event presented by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), part of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. OMAI is a special department within the University. It is a nationally renown program that incorporates spoken word, poetry, hip hop, music, art, MC-ing and other forms in a rigorous arts and academic setting. Many of the participants are from urban high schools from around the country.  The cities that brought students this year included Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Louis.  GCAA was the only school that had not attended previously. This was the first time the seven year old event included freshman. Most participants were seniors.  After driving seven hours in the car, our group had to quickly prepare for its performance-in what would be a packed black box theater in the Overture Performing Arts Center, the premiere venue in Madison just two blocks away from the Capital. Our kids prepared a brand new (still tweaking it on the way to the venue) skit/song called "I'll be There For You." The place erupted with applause and shouts of "Encore" after the guys finished. It was the ice breaker of sorts, an emotional welcoming of GCAA into the family.  The rest of the event featured hip hop poetry, B-Boy and B-Girl Dancing (modern break dancing) and regional and national guest speakers.  Leo Ramsey "became" Macbeth in a powerfully delivered monologue. Daniel Schmidt recited a monologue from "Two Gentlemen from Verona" to shouts of "Go Bow Tie Boy, go!" (He was clearly the only participant wearing a white shirt with a bow tie...  DeMarco Saffold delivered a softer original poem which was also received with much enthusiasm.   The final piece that the GCAA crew presented was a monologue by Leo Ramsey and a fight scene from Shakespeare's  Macbeth, featuring actors Leo Ramsey, Antonio Mosley and accompanist, Daniel Schmidt on violin.  This very intense and life-like fight completely mesmerized if not out and out terrified some of the packed crowd. It all ended well when the place erupted with wild applause. And so ended the first night of what would be an extraordinary four day trip. This is part of a three part series of blog posts about the trip to Madison.  More videos of the event will be added. Stay Tuned.  

GCAA in the news: The Allure of the Arts

A recent article in the St. Louis Beacon features many of the highlights of Grand Center.  One of the newest highlights of Grand Center, of course, is Grand Center Arts Academy.  Here's an excerpt from the "The Allure of the Arts; New Business Thrive in Grand Center":

[Vince] Schoemehl said the Grand Center Arts Academy is one of the projects he’s most proud of. When the academy first started in 2010, the school only hosted grades six and seven, and everything worked out of the Third Baptist Church on North Grand Boulevard. However, it was obvious that a new building was necessary for the program to expand and grow.

According to [Dan] Rubright, the board of directors for Confluence Charter Schools collaborated with Schoemehl and Grand Center Inc., as well as with the Lawrence Group, to make a deal to redevelop the old Carter Carburetor complex at 711 North Grand and turn it into a school. Now, in its new location, the Grand Center Arts Academy hosts 440 students, grades six through nine, and there is a waiting list for three grades. Since GCAA is located in Grand Center, students have the unique opportunity to go out in the community and experience all the forms of art surrounding them.

You are invited to read this entire article, which will confirm that Grand Center is a perfect place for a vibrant new school for the performing and visual arts.