LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Out-of-Door Academy will soon have two new facilities worth more than $20 million.
Lead donors Dick Vitale and Ariane Dart officially announced the names of the new facilities under construction at the Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch at a news conference Aug. 28 where school officials broke ground on the Dick Vitale Family Student Center and Dart Foundation STEM Center.
The Dick Vitale Family Student Center integrates state-of-the-art technology with flexible spaces for students to work. It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.
The Dart Foundation Science Technology Engineering and Math Center is designed to immerse Out-of-Door students in project-based learning opportunities, school officials said in a press release.
"The inspiration for these transformational new facilities comes from a shared vision for the future of teaching and learning at The Out-of-Door Academy," said David Mahler, head of school at The Out-of-Door Academy. "The educational landscape is rapidly evolving and the spaces we have designed, combined with a rigorous curriculum focused on critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, will give our students a competitive advantage as they transition to life on a college campus."
Out-of-Door Academy is a college preparatory school with two campuses: Lower School for kindergarten-fifth grade on Siesta Key and Upper School for sixth grade through senior high in Lakewood Ranch. Enrollment is 685 with 255 students in grades nine through 12.
Mitzie Henson, chairwoman of the ODA Board, said last May
the board OK'd plans for a college-inspired student center, a world class STEM center and a total reimagination of middle school space.
"We feel that these are essential elements to help prepare our students for success inside and outside the college classroom," Henson said.
Ron Gelbman, capital campaign chairman, said the funding drive continues but has topped the original goal.
"Our campaign to raise $15 million began in 2008," he said in a news release. "While our timing with the recession was less than perfect, we have surpassed the $15 million goal and are well on our way to more than $20 million."
Vitale said he's been impressed with the quality of education provided by ODA.
"They embody the qualities that I believe in so strongly to help prepare our youngsters to develop into our future community leaders," Vitale said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "I certainly have been blessed in my career and I have lived a life that has exceeded all of my dreams. It brings joy to my heart, and to my family's, to be able to help provide a special place for students to collaborate, learn and explore their passions as they further their education and pursue their dreams and goals."
Willis A. Smith Construction Inc. of Lakewood Ranch is handling construction.