The stage is set at Gilbert Learning Foundation and Performing Arts for students to find success and a creative outlet or sport.
The 8-year-old charter school offers students in kindergarten through high school a chance try ceramics, musical theater, dance and martial arts.
“We try to bring as much variety as possible,” said principal Robert Villa, in his third year at the campus.
Today, there are 340 students on the Gilbert campus. There are sister campuses in Mesa, and Villa said there are plans to expand in the East Valley.
The school’s a very busy place. Just last week, the students were preparing for a winter dinner theater. The junior high and high school dance group put on a show the prior week. Monday and Tuesday, the K-6 students performed.
“The performing arts aspect brings out kids who would be shy or melt away. They blossom and shine. It’s amazing to see them develop,” said Alana Imemer, a math teacher at the school.
Not all students take part in performing arts, school officials said. But they’re all active. The school also has an ultimate Frisbee team, basketball, soccer and martial arts.
Students come from across the East Valley, as well as other areas.
“We bus as far as Queen Creek,” Villa said.
Posters and murals cover most hallways. Students made some of them using information they researched about colleges.
This year, the school will see its largest graduating class — 17 students. Last year, 11 graduated. Most made their way through the school the past few years.
The school’s science lab is used by all the upper grades. It houses a bearded dragon, turtles, and dozens of fish.
On stage last week, drama students practiced their lines for “The Taming of the Shrew.” Dance students put the finishing touches on their holiday production in the dance studio next door.
The campus takes up a large space in a retail strip in the heart of Gilbert. Villa said they could vacate that space in a few years for a newly constructed building.
Because the performing arts school doesn’t require auditions, it’s a place for any students to give the stage a chance.
“We try to incorporate as many academic opportunities and sports and arts,” Villa said.
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