The Union County Vo-Tech Schools Academy for Performing Arts officially opened its new building today at the Vo-Tech Schools campus in Scotch Plains. The new high school offers young Union County residents the opportunity to build a career in the performing arts, in partnership with Kean University.
“On behalf of the Freeholder Board, I would like to thank Vo-Tech Schools Superintendent Thomas J. Bistocchi and Kean University President Dawood Farahi for their vision of a first-class performing arts experience for high school students in Union County,” said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski. “The performing arts are an important employer in our region, and the new academy will enable generations of young people to gain a foothold in this very competitive and rewarding field.”
“The Academy for Performing Arts complements the entire Vo-Tech program and enhances our mission of enabling young people to begin building successful careers while still in high school,” said Dr. Bistocchi. “The new academy will focus on challenging academics and a supportive atmosphere in which creative skills can flourish.”
The Academy for Performing Arts accepted its first class of 55 freshmen in fall 2008. Classes were held in a temporary space on campus while the new building was under construction.
“This partnership brings a world-class education in the performing arts to talented students throughout Union County,” said Dr. Farahi. “These young men and women will benefit from the many resources in and outside the
classroom and the first-rate performance spaces on the Kean University campus as they make valuable contributions to our community.”
The Academy is a four-year, full-time high school that challenges students with a rigorous academic program and immerses them in a dynamic performing arts program, while creating a community that values honesty, integrity, and citizenship.
In a groundbreaking partnership with Kean University, the high school program culminates with a senior year at Kean, where students take a full freshman college course load. When students graduate, they will have earned a high school diploma and finished their first year of college.
Academy for Performing Arts students also benefit from master classes provided by distinguished Kean faculty on both the Kean and Vo-Tech campuses. Kean University also provides the Academy with the use of its Little Theatre and Wilkins Theatre for recitals and performances.
In addition to theater and dance programs, the Academy provides programs in the technical arts, and Academy students work alongside Kean’s technical crew to help manage the shows.
A total of $20 million in funding for the Academy was approved by the Freeholder Board in May 2008. The total includes $15 million for the building at the Vo-Tech Schools campus, and $5 million for new facilities used by Academy students at the Kean University campus.
The new Academy for Performing Arts is located just inside the main entrance to the Vo-Tech Schools campus at 1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains. With its translucent glass lobby, the 42,000 square foot building serves as a gateway and design centerpiece for the campus. The building includes a performance space, studios for theater and dance classes, recording facilities, and an outdoor courtyard that doubles as an amphitheater.