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‘Dream school’ to rise

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LEHI — It started as a group of parents, most strangers to one another, getting together about a year ago and asking the question: If we could create a dream school, what would it be?

Together, they dreamed up Renaissance Academy, a school where the spirit of enlightenment from the Renaissance Era combines with the modern information age to educate north Utah County students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

And over the next six months, those parents will be able to watch that dream take shape.

A groundbreaking celebration was held Saturday afternoon at the future site of Renaissance Academy, 1133 E. 3200 North, Lehi. The new charter school, approved by the Utah Board of Education to open this fall, primarily will serve students from Lehi, Highland and Alpine.

"This is a very exciting day for those of us who have been planning this for about a year," said Ava Jacklin, the charter school's board president.

Designed by VCBO Architects, the new 43,000-square-foot school will include classrooms, a science lab, a music room, a foreign language room with a computer lab, administrative offices, a faculty room, a lunchroom/auditorium and four commons areas to house the school's media centers.

The process for selecting a contractor is under way, and construction of the school is expected to be complete by July 30.

"I think this will be something Lehi can be proud of," Jacklin said. "This school is going to raise the bar for education."

That was the goal when Jacklin began meeting with fellow parents to create Renaissance Academy.

"It was a group of parents who were really, really wanting a change in our kids' education," she said. "We started just by all of us throwing in our ideas."

Many of those ideas were incorporated into the Renaissance Academy mission. While it follows the state core curriculum, an emphasis will be placed on the sciences and fine arts, Jacklin said.

Foreign language will be a major focus, she said. Spanish will be required of students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades will have the option to continue to learn Spanish or take classes in Mandarin Chinese or Arabic.

"They are some very, very cutting-edge offerings for our kids," Jacklin said. "(Mandarin Chinese and Arabic) are two of the languages worldwide that there's the most significant need for people to learn right now."

Like other charter schools, Renaissance Academy will use a random lottery system for

enrollment to give all students an equal chance of being accepted to the school.

The school will fill 600 positions through the lottery system. As of Saturday, 1,180 potential students had applied for those spots.

Open enrollment will continue through Feb. 15 at the school's Web site, www.renacademy.org. Enrollment forms also can be obtained by calling 494-5650.

The lottery is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Eagle Crest Elementary, 2760 N. 300 West, Lehi.

Charter schools are state-funded public schools.

E-mail: jpagex@desnews.com