Detroit charter school shows off $6M in renovations

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Detroit — A $6 million renovation of a Detroit charter school unveiled on Friday includes nine new classrooms and six new science labs, officials with University Prep Academy Middle School said.

Originally constructed as a clinic in 1949, the building at 5310 St. Antoine was purchased by the Thompson Educational Foundation, founded by Bob and Ellen Thompson, in 2004 and renovated to add a gymnasium and space to the school.

This second phase, completed in eight weeks this summer, transformed the school into a state-of-the-art teaching facility with a performing arts studio and broadcast studio, a new cafeteria, a new glass exterior, LED lights throughout the school and emergency power and fire protection upgrades, principal Aisha Scott said on Friday at a ribbon cutting event with students, staff and community leaders.

The school, which serves 480 students in grades 6-8 and is part of the University Prep Schools system, will use personalized instruction to make children ready for the world, Scott said.

“This is a transformation of our learning environment. It has elevated our students,” Scott said.

Thompson, a philanthropist and former construction company owner, attended Friday’s event, saying the renovation signifies the foundation’s commitment to investing into the future of children in Detroit.

“This building is just glass, bricks and mortar. It only happens with when teachers and students come on Monday and bring it to life,” Thompson said Friday.

Eighth-grader Malik Jarrell, who has attended the middle school since sixth grade, said the changes are noticeable.

“I really like the classrooms and the glass. It looks really nice. It just tells me I’m in a professional place,” said Malik, 12.