New school up and running in Ham Lake

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science is officially out of Blaine and occupying its new building in Ham Lake along Bunker Lake Boulevard.

Families had a first look at the three-story, 104,000-square-foot school during an open house Aug. 10, five days before summer vacation concluded and classes started back up again.

The new facility at 532 Bunker Lake Blvd. NE is more than three times the size of the previous building at 13001 Central Ave. NE in Blaine, which opened in 2008.

The larger space has allowed the charter school, serving kindergarten through eighth-grade students, to expand enrollment from 430 students to more than 700.

The number of staff has nearly doubled with 45 new recruits this school year.

“It’s a huge adjustment,” said Holly Fischer, DaVinci Academy’s director of operations. Since moving into the building July 25, “it’s been kind of a mad dash.”

Though many spaces are still unfinished, including a 400-seat auditorium and gymnasium, kids are enjoying 54 new classrooms and small-group spaces in the hallways, according to Executive Director Debra Lach. One space pulled triple duty as auditorium, cafeteria and gym in Blaine.

Lach’s favorite spot in the new school is the second-floor mezzanine, outside of the library media center and overlooking the atrium. Books lined the hallways at DaVinci’s old site with no designated library media center.

Instrumental music teacher Mike Hebert is thrilled to have a music classroom that is separate from space used for vocal music. Instruments and chairs can remain in place for the school’s six ensembles between rehearsals.

“We are free to do more,” Hebert said. “Our kids get so much more playing time.”

“It’s just a joy to be able to say we designed this because of the way our program works,” Lach said. “It’s working the way we imagined.”

Construction should wrap up completely by winter.

Despite expanding enrollment, the charter school’s wait list continues to house 500 names, according to Fischer. “I still continue to get emails daily from families” looking to enroll, she said.

DaVinci admits families each February through a lottery system. The school will accept applications for the 2018-2019 school year through January 2018. Visit www.davincicharterschool.org for more information.

Also new this year is an after-school care program called DaVinci Den. The program was capped at 60 students and is full with a wait list.

DaVinci is eager to grow in the community of Ham Lake and is looking for someone living or working in the community to join the DaVinci Academy Board or Directors.

“We want to get more integrated into Ham Lake,” Lach said. “We’re excited. We’re thrilled to be here.”

If interested in applying for the Board of Directors, contact the school at 763-754-6577.

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The first day of school at DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science’s new building at 532 Bunker Lake Blvd., Ham Lake, was Aug. 15. Photos by Olivia Alveshere Two music classrooms allow for DaVinci Academy’s six instrumental ensembles to have more practice time. Dollars raised as part of a capital campaign paid for a new playground and other outdoor fixtures. An electric fireplace will be installed on the second-floor mezzanine outside the library media center. Natural light floods the new library media center. In DaVinci Academy’s old facility, library books were kept in the hallway.
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The first day of school at DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science’s new building at 532 Bunker Lake Blvd., Ham Lake, was Aug. 15. Photos by Olivia Alveshere