`Phenomenal' arts center opens today at Park School

Building's debut coincides with annual open house

October 10, 2003|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Workmen moved furniture and computers inside yesterday and maintenance crews attached logos to the windows, all finishing touches for the Park School's new showcase, a three-story, $7 million arts center that officially opens today on the Old Court Road campus.

Named the Wyman Arts Center, the 45,000-square-foot building - with dance and rehearsal studios, a black box theater, art gallery, keyboard studio, stage shop, digital imaging and photography studios and music and practice rooms - has been under construction for nearly two years.

Most of the work inside has been completed, but the outdoor amphitheater is still under construction. A ceramics studio complete with a kiln and studios for woodworking and metal classes are also under construction.

"Attention was paid to every detail in this building, from the cushioned-floor in the dance studio to the high doors in the stage shop," said Hillary Jacobs, Park School's director of advancement.

Five years after building an arts center was first discussed, students and faculty are anxious to move into the classrooms as soon as the work crews move out.

A drawing studio and photography studio already are in use.

"This is a state-of-the-art building," said Marcia Holden, director of admissions and financial assistance. "It is phenomenal. It will be a real drawing card for the school, which has always had a strong arts program."

The opening of the facility - a modern-looking building with sleek lines and a glass facade - is coinciding with the school's annual open house, where staff members will get a chance to show off the center and the classrooms equipped for visual and performing arts.

About 600 prospective students and parents are expected to attend the open house Sunday in Brooklandville.

Open houses at area private schools are a fall ritual. They give students and parents a chance to look over the schools and talk to administrators, faculty and students.

Park's upper-school students also will be acting as hosts and answering questions for visitors as they sit in on abbreviated classes with Park faculty and students to get an overview of the curriculum.

Park senior Alexandra Khachatryan, 17, said she and her classmates didn't mind giving up part of their Sunday to help with the open house.

"I can answer questions for the students and their parents after being here for four years," said Khachatryan. "The first visit to a new school can make or break how you think about the school."

Park's enrollment this year is 887 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. School officials are expected to enroll 128 new students in various grades for next year.

Tuition ranges from $15,195 for kindergarten to $16,785 for grades nine through 12.

Holden has been overseeing the open houses for three years and said she has been refining the program.

One thing she hopes for every year is good weather. "But I can't control that part," she said.

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