BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Thomas S. Lubben Ed.D., the founder of the Arts Academy Middle School, gave a presentation for parents who are interested in their child attending the academy, which is set to open September 2012.

Lubben also is the founder of the Lehigh Valley High School of the Performing Arts (LVPA).

The parent information session was held Tuesday night at Wesley Church in Bethlehem where Lubben informed parents about the school and also answered parent questions.

“We believe art matters,” stated Lubben, welcoming the attendees to the session.

The Arts Academy will be housed at 1610 E. Emmaus Ave. in Salisbury Township, for grades 5 – 8.

The building has 17 full-sized classrooms, which will provide plenty of room for the Academy’s 400-student population, around 100 students in each grade.

The building is equipped with air conditioning, a fairly new heating system, but has no gym, cafeteria or theater. 

Lubben told the parents they would be turning the basement into an all-purpose auditorium. The school will also be creating handicap access.

The Academy will be holding interviews/auditions for students who are interested in attending.

It will not accept out-of-state students, expelled or repeatedly suspended students or students who are not interested in the arts.

“The kid has to want to be there. That’s so critical,” Lubben stated.

The school day begins at 7:45 a.m. with homeroom, and wraps up at 2:45 p.m.

The students will have 200 minutes of traditional academics, 150 minutes of artistic courses, and a 30-minute lunch.

The school will be offering dance, figure skating, theater, vocal music, instrumental music and visual art courses.

Buses will be provided for students from most of the surrounding school districts, but Easton, Nazareth and Northampton are out of the busing range.

The majority of the staff is already hired. “The Academy received 135 applications for around 40 positions,” Lubben stated. The staff hires will be completed by May 30.

Teachers guide the curriculum, which is different than a traditional public school.

“We’re hiring new staff, and we are empowering that staff to develop an enriched curriculum that meets all state standards,” said Lubben, “This is one of the most exciting thing about a school like this.”

The artistic teachers do not have to be state certified.

“As an administrator you can figure out who the good teachers are,” stated Lubben.

Every year the school will bring in outside experts to evaluate one program per year, as a way for the school to judge itself.

All students will have one period of gym per week, and will also be enrolled in world languages.

The school will have 80 – 100 computers, 1 or 2 science carts, televisions or Smartboards in every classroom, and a security system. Full time teachers also will receive a laptop for their school use.

Class sizes should not exceed 25 students, and they expect twice as many girls to enroll as boys.

“There are some boys signed up for dance,” Lubben said, “I’m very happy to see that.”