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School Bells Ring at Centre of Tallahassee

Tom Flanigan

What began life as a Gayfer’s Department Store some 45 years ago is now the second location for a Tallahassee charter school.

The not-for-profit School of Arts and Sciences held a ribbon cutting on Thursday (8/10) at the Centre of Tallahassee on the upper level of what most recently had been a Dillard’s store. Leon Kung, chair of the School of Arts and Sciences Foundation, said it’s a unique facility that will be occupied in stages.

“We have the only rooftop playground of anywhere in the state and this is only kindergarten through third grade right now,” he explained. “We’re actually expanding with fourth and fifth grade next year and then into middle school in three years.”

Ultimately, Kung said both the new Centre of Tallahassee location and the school’s original home on Thomasville Road, which is undergoing an expansion of its own, will accommodate nearly 450 students each. City Commissioner Gil Ziffer was among the hundreds of people at the School of Arts and Sciences at the Centre’s ribbon cutting. He said having an educational institution on the property is very much in keeping with the vision of the developer to recast what had been an exclusively retail property into something very different.

“What they’re trying to do with the mall is to turn it from the tired, old traditional mall as we knew it to a town center feel with roads through it and a school, because that’s where our schools were, in our town centers,” Ziffer said.

The School of Arts and Sciences was established in 1999 and uses project-based learning with a curriculum emphasis on the arts and sciences.