NORTH PORT, Fla. - It's new gym day at Imagine School in North Port, as a multi-million dollar complex with gymnasium, weight room, and classrooms is finally complete at the charter school.
About a year ago, the new building started an uproar the school is working to bounce back from.
It wasn't long ago we were doing stories about how the school’s board wanted to disband from the Imagine organization. Not even a year later, the school has a new board, a new principal, and a beautiful new building.
Coach Kent Reed is excited to get his students into the new building, called the ‘Shark Tank’. "It's exciting for the kids to come in. Brand new equipment…state of the art weights. We are really excited about it. The kids are really excited about it."
Student athlete Michael Prada is feeling the burn. "It motivates and amps me up to come in here and get stronger. Come in here every day and lift weights."
"The school is healthy, and it is here," says new principal Steve Black.
The building was actually the beginning of big changes there, when the school’s local board at the time said the parent organization wasn't able to help them get financing. So they did it on their own and tried to break off. After legal battles, the school principal and board were replaced.
Black says the whole ordeal did cause more students to leave than expected. “Some of them have come back. We certainly have stabilized if not grown a little. There was a drop in what was budgeted for, absolutely."
They’re working their way back. 500 students from grades 6 through 11 now call the upper campus home. The school plans to add 12th grade next year.
Black says the new facility helps show the commitment to offering a quality school choice option. "We now have an identity. It is certainly a major step in the right direction."
And not just for athletics. The new classrooms have the latest technology.
Junior Mike Dehay, who leads the Academic Olympics team, appreciates the whole feel. "The small class sizes and the small student population of the high school in general is really nice to have teachers who know you."
The school will be playing their first ever games inside the gym starting Friday night. Girls basketball starts at 5:30, followed by the boys team.