Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.
Arizona State University celebrated its latest state-of-the-art educational facility on Monday at the new home for the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy on the ASU West campus.
The building provides a sustainable, open and inviting space for Herberger Academy students and the ASU community.
“The whole purpose for this school is built around the core premise that we have as a university,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said at the opening ceremonies, which included student performances and a tour of the new facility. “We are here to create teaching, learning and discovery environments for all learners. We’ve left the world that everyone is going to be pushed through the same factory, through the same box, through the same system.”
Herberger Young Scholars Academy (HYSA), created in 2011 as part of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with an endowment from philanthropists Gary and Jeanne Herberger, offers a learning environment designed for highly gifted students in grades 7 to 12 who will have the opportunity to explore the building’s unique features on a daily basis.
The learning setting includes cutting-edge classrooms, a makerspace for collaborative projects, a black-box theater for drama, a fish tank that students are responsible for, and outdoor spaces with raised-bed gardens and an amphitheater.
Carly Cairns, a student in her humanities year at HYSA (roughly equivalent to 10th grade), said she was excited about what the new building and its location offer.
“There are so many great opportunities here being on the ASU campus,” she said. “Not only that, but with this amazing new building there are so many things that we can built off of to really pursue our interests. I have an interest in theater and drama, and this new black-box space is great for plays.”
The academy offers students an accelerated academic program that encourages students to complete middle and high school in as few as three years. Many students choose to continue their studies, taking advanced classes offered under the guidance of the internationally recognized Cambridge curriculum and ASU courses for college credit. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research with an ASU professor.
The new building offers a space befitting its exceptional mission.
“The building delivers a great deal of natural light and different types of learning spaces,” said Kim Lansdowne, Herberger Young Scholars Academy executive director. “We did not want it to look like an average school.”
HYSA was involved in the building’s design process and was able to tailor some of the features to meet its needs. HYSA students participated in a design charrette with Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts faculty and students, and the architect, Marlene Imirzian and Associates, incorporated these features into the final design.
Lansdowne said the school would not be able to step into this new era without the support of Jeanne Herberger and her late husband, Gary Herberger. The Herbergers provided financial support to open the school in 2011 and provided additional new-building funds.
“What would Gary say if he were on hand for this celebration? If Gary had a chance to address you today, how would he tell the remarkable story of the Herberger Young Scholars Academy?” Jeanne Herberger said during Monday’s ceremonies. “I thought about it. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, and then it hit me: Gary is here. Gary’s spirit is fully alive in this gathering and in every corner of this magnificent building.