Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

On High School Campus, a College Feel | Student Center with Elaborate STEM Facility Added to Out-of-Door Academy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

On High School Campus, a College Feel | Student Center with Elaborate STEM Facility Added to Out-of-Door Academy

Article excerpt

EDUCATION

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- On the first day of school, 475 students attending The Out-of-Door Academy got their first looks inside a building where they will study, socialize and get a glimpse of college life.

The school welcomed as special guests the lead donors, the Vitale and Dart families, to a ceremony Wednesday to unlock the doors to the two-story Dick Vitale Family Student Center and the Dart STEM Center.

Students in grades 9-12 will attend classes in the $4.5 million building, which includes the 11,000-square-foot STEM center upstairs, a 2,000-square-foot STEM lab, a cafe, private study rooms, offices and covered patio. The ground-floor student center replicates a college center.

"This gives me an idea of what college life will be like and look like," said senior Aidan Dowdy, who will take an advanced-placement environmental sciences class in the STEM lab.

Dowdy said the students are excited about the view of the seven- acre lake and a new 3-D printer, which a teacher was trying out that morning to make a cell phone case.

Architect Sol Fleischman of Tampa said he used the natural elements of the site in his design, incorporating terraces to take advantage of the lake views with a high-tech building that blended in with the rest of the campus.

"The vision for the Student Center is to create a college academic experience for students; 100 percent will go on to college," Head of School David Mahler said. "They will know what that environment feels like."

Mahler said Brittany Wenger, a 2014 ODA graduate who earned international acclaim by winning Google's international science fair for her cancer research, was his inspiration for the STEM Center. She now attends Duke University.

"It was her passion in the STEM area that began to shape my thinking on what the Dart Stem Center might be," he said.

Bob and Ariane Dart represented the private family foundation, which was established in 1984 in Michigan by William and Claire Dart to advance and encourage youth education, primarily in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ariane Dart said her father-in-law, William Dart, who founded the international Dart Container Corp. …

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