Future School of Fort Smith celebrates new building, returning internships

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 714 views 

A new facility ribbon cutting was held Oct. 8 for a The Future School of Fort Smith. (photo from Future School of Fort Smith)

With it’s new $6 million building completed, the Future School of Fort Smith is able to reach more students. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the now 18,000-square-feet building Oct. 8. The school now has 20 classrooms, 16 of which are new and two of which were renovated with the building project.

“It is a really nice space that speaks to our mission of educating 21st century leaders,” said Superintendent Boyd Logan. “It is a building that is now worthy of the students who go here.”

Though the ribbon cutting ceremony was only held recently, the building is fully occupied and has been in use for the fall semester. This fall, the school has 60 freshmen joining the other grades for a total current enrollment of 275 students. The new building will allow the school to serve around 400 students across four grades, Logan said.

At the time the expansion was approved in January 2020, Logan said the expansion would replace modular buildings the school used and add enough classroom space that the school could open to ninth grade students. Logan noted the project also moved the entrance of the school to face North F Street, toward the business community in downtown Fort Smith.

The school opened its doors Aug. 22, 2016, in downtown Fort Smith as a tuition-free, public charter high school centered on a personalized approach to learning via student-designed internships, personalized learning plans, and an advisor for each student. Through May 2020, it served students in 10th through 12th grade. It graduated its first class of seniors in May 2019.

Student internships have returned following a year of the COVID-19 pandemic when many in-person internships and in0-person class time had to be stopped or restructured. Logan said all 11th and 12th-graders are back to internships and 10th-graders are in the process of preparing for internships in fields in which they believe they have an interest. Ninth-grade students do not take part in internships, but start participating in community service and preparing for a future of giving back to the community.

In order to serve the incoming freshman, build for the future and help students get back on track after a year of COVID-19 pandemic related learning struggles, the school has added five new faculty members and many more support personnel, he said.

“We are really excited to be back on track with our internships and real-life learning. Excited to grow our school to 400 students, and then see what’s next for us,” Logan said.

Logan said money for the expansion came from donations and grants from the Fort Smith-based Dream Alliance, the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, the Windgate Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, as well as a loan through Civic Builders in New York.