Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stewart Africentric Elementary Relocates to Crouse Community Learning Center

Contrary to misleading reports, in the Akron Beacon Journal, Stewart Africentric Elementary is not closing. The building will not be used after this year, but the Stewart community will be relocating to Crouse Community Learning Center at 1000 Diagonal Road in Akron. The current building for Crouse Elementary has been in continuous use since 1919.

At the end of this school year Crouse Elementary will be razed and out of its ashes will be born a new community learning center (CLC). As of the Fall 2009 Crouse CLC will be the home of the current student body already in attendance at Crouse and the student body of Stewart Africentric Elementary school.

Teachers, parents and interested community members took a look at their soon to be new home in the Crouse Community Learning Center. A parent meeting will be held at Stewart Africentric Elementary School on March 5th, 2009 at 6 PM to answer any questions community members may have. You can also reach school officials for more information at 330/873-3396.

The newly constructed building stands on the same plot of land as the old Crouse we all remember. But, instead of 3 - 4 floors, depending on how you count, the new building has a low profile with only 2 stories and lots of windows. As we toured the building the afternoon sun lit up every room. The inclusion of a number of large windows in strategic locations was a brilliant design stroke. From the rear of the building it looks somewhat foreboding. But, from the front it has a much more open and inviting feeling.

This feeling only lasts for a moment though, because all visitors will have to enter through the main office which is secured and will require visitors to be buzzed in by the receptionist who will have a birdseye view of anyone coming in the front door, while also being able to view all other entrances on a monitor from their office.

The building will house the 200 Crouse students currently enrolled and 120 additional students from Stewart Africentric Elementary. For the moment plans have not been announced for the current building housing Stewart's students. However, from all indications their will only be one principal with the possibility of an assistant principal. Whether or not there will be an assistant principal is unsure. All of the students from Stewart will be housed on the second floor. Crouse students will be on the first floor and will also occupy one additional area on the second floor in a separate wing of the building.

There will be some areas that the students from both schools will share, primarily the gym, cafeteria/auditorium, clinic, art room and the music room, not to mention the outside playground area.

The playground and a second parking lot that will allow people to enter the gymnasium at ground level are still in the works.

Overall the building itself gets a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It seems that they've thought of everything and have a realistic plan. The school will house 500 students at capacity, but will start with around 350 students. There will be a number of openings so parents whose children are not already enrolled at Crouse or Stewart should contact APS as soon as possible. These openings will not last long. When Helen Arnold CLC opened the demand exceeded their capacity to meet it, so some students were turned away in that instance.

It will be a real challenge for the Stewart parents and staff to maintain the Africentric program in their new environment. Hopefully, they won't be swallowed up in the new building or lose their unique identity. I'm hopeful, this merger with Crouse will work out better than expected and both programs will flourish in the bright light of day which will bathe the school on every sunny day.

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