A south Bronx charter school celebrated its upcoming expansion when construction began on a new building that will soon be home to its growing educational program.
American Dream School, a charter school currently located in Mott Haven, recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art building in Melrose, to serve as its high school. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place on Friday, February 8.
The new school building at 700 Gerard Avenue will be a five-7story, 33,000 square foot educational facility addressing the continuing curriculum of ADS, said Nicholas Gallagher, director of operations.
The new facility boasts dedicated space for a gym, computer lab and cafeteria, and dedicated space for nearly all activities, said Gallagher.
Among the amenities that ADS’ multi-lingual English and Spanish high school’s building are expected to offer by July 2020 are a chemistry lab, biology lab, physics lab, outdoor educational terrace, top floor gymnasium, a full kitchen that will enable the school to eventually prepare fresh meals for students, said Gallagher.
ADS founder and principal, Melissa Melkonian, joined with parents and teachers in celebration of the milestone on February 8.
“I believe our hardworking students and teachers deserve a permanent, beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that inspires them every day,” Melkonian.
Melkonian added that a key element of ADS’ vision is to cultivate a welcoming, encouraging environment for English language learners and immigrant students where learning and language development is supported.
“With the groundbreaking of our new high school campus, we’re pushing our vision forward,” said Melkonian.
The new building will accommodate 324 students.
Hollister Construction Services, a full-service construction managing company, is constructing the new building.
Andrew McLaughlin, Hollister project executive, said he believes that the design created for the building will continue to push boundaries and will be a great representation of the school community and students.
Gallagher said that when ADS was founded during the 2014-15 school year, it was originally intended for middle school education, and that the dual language school was expanded and their charter amended because of parent requests.
“Our parents petitioned us to expand our grade offering into high school because they did not find the type of programming in their community that they felt was appropriate for their children,” said Gallagher.
ADS continues to occupy the fourth floor of P.S. 30 and has also expanded into private space nearby for the upper grades, said Gallagher, who added having its own building will provide the school with stability.
The school hopes to offer its first high school graduating class a diploma with a NYC Department of Education seal of bi-literacy, meaning graduates are bi-literate and bi-lingual in English and Spanish, said Gallagher.
Every class at the school is taught in both languages except for English subject class, and the classes have two teachers per classroom, said Gallagher.