Home Posts tagged LightHouse Holyoke
Daily News

HOLYOKE — Gateway City Arts (GCA) announced it has signed a purchase and sale agreement with LightHouse Holyoke for the transfer of the three-building arts complex at 92 Race St. in Holyoke.

“We couldn’t be happier to have LightHouse move into the space that we spent 12 years creating,” said Lori Divine, co-creator and co-owner, with Vitek Kruta, of Gateway City Arts. “Our mission was always to create a space for education, community, creativity, and inspiration. This was carried out in our classes, meetings, theater, food, music, and gatherings.

“LightHouse Holyoke shares so many of our values,” she went on. “When it was clear that GCA had to close, our hope was to find a buyer that would continue our vision merged with their own. We applaud what LightHouse brings to the lives of its students and their families and friends. We created a space for learning and sharing; LightHouse will continue that. Vitek and I are excited about the new chapter of creativity for LightHouse and for Holyoke.”

LightHouse is a competency-based middle and high school for self-directed learning. It first opened in Holyoke in 2015 and began a collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017. LightHouse now has partnerships with six public districts.

“Our mission statement begins with, ‘LightHouse is changing what school can be,’” said Catherine Gobron, co-founder and executive director for LightHouse Holyoke. “Situating a school within the framework of a performing-arts and concert venue is an incredible opportunity. We couldn’t imagine a more perfect location to expand our mission and vision than the state-of-the-art facility that Lori Divine and Vitek Kruta have built at 92 Race.”

For LightHouse Holyoke, the move offers a significant opportunity to expand its existing programs. The new facility will feature similar non-traditional learning spaces as those currently existing at LightHouse, presently just down the block at 208 Race St., including a maker space, music studio, and recording studio, which have already been instrumental in nurturing creativity and inspiration among students who may not have previously enjoyed school.

Plans for the three-building, 40,000-square-foot facility include a Production Academy integrated into the two on-site performance spaces, the 100-person-capacity Divine Theater, and the much larger 500-person-capacity concert venue, creating scaffolded training and internship opportunities for young people to learn the many skills associated with the entertainment and event-production industry, from lighting and sound to artist management and beyond.

Similarly, the café, designed and handpainted by Kruta, will reopen as a public restaurant, with integrated courses and internships in all aspects of running a café, leading to paid work and future career opportunities.

The facility also hosts an 8,000-square-foot maker space built by Divine and Kruta, which will continue on as a community maker space, complete with a wood shop and ceramic studio, both hosting classes and workspaces for LightHouse students and accessible to the larger community as well.

“At LightHouse, the students are the curriculum, individually and collectively, and the school is the community,” Gobron said. “From inception, downtown Holyoke has been our campus as we support young people to learn outside the confines of traditional classrooms, inspired by personal interests in the context of the real world. We could not be more honored or more excited to take up the mantle from Lori and Vitek and carry forward the work of creating art and building community in Hampden County.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — LightHouse Holyoke is in the process of acquiring the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. to become its permanent home.

LightHouse Holyoke is a 501(c)(3), accredited school founded in 2015. It began a partnership with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017 and now works with four public districts along with private-pay families on a sliding scale. With a foundation in social justice, LightHouse offers a transformational educational experience for students in grades 6-12 who are seeking a new way to experience school.

Over the past eight years, LightHouse has supported nearly 150 students to not just graduate high school, but to redefine their relationship to learning. More than half were either already dropped out of high school or at high risk to not graduate.

LightHouse’s vision is to be a reflection of a world where young people are celebrated for their individual gifts and identities and where all people are invited to learn with each other, from each other, and for each other, guided by a shared goal of connection and responsibility. It believes that transformative education is a key to this future.

Current enrollment is 75 students; in the new building, LightHouse aims to increase enrollment to 100-120 students.

With the support of Mass Development, it has completed a robust feasibility study, including multiple environmental reports. It has initial drawings from an architect and is prepared to close on the four-lot parcel in January 2024. The current vision for two of the currently vacant lots is to create an urban food forest, open to the community. The cost estimate for the total project is approximately $4 million. Occupancy is expected by September 2025.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — LightHouse Holyoke, Personalized Education for Teens, recently celebrated its annual Raise Your Glass event at Mill One at Open Square in Holyoke. LightHouse is a personalized middle- and high-school alternative now in its eighth year in downtown Holyoke.

LightHouse maintains an innovative collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools through Opportunity Academy, where students earn credit toward a Holyoke High School diploma in a program modeled after University Without Walls at UMass Amherst. The partnership allows a limited number of Holyoke Public School students to attend LightHouse along with privately enrolled students. LightHouse is accredited through the New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges.

At the annual Raise Your Glass event, speakers included musician, performer, and LightHouse graduate Nehemiah Caradwyn; Liam Russell, a current privately enrolled student and graduating senior; and Damasco Santiago, father of Jhaydon Santiago, also graduating this year, who is enrolled through the LightHouse partnership with Holyoke Public Schools.

Santiago shared his personal story of growing up in Holyoke and unsuccessful experience with Holyoke Public Schools, including a moving account of significant challenges he overcame throughout his life. His story included watching his son, Jhaydon, encountering similar challenges as he navigated school.

“Then we found LightHouse,” Santiago said. “At first, I wasn’t so sure it would work for him. It was so different from regular school. Now I see how much it helped us. Jhaydon was able to learn at his own pace in his own way. Now he is already taking college classes, and he will graduate in June with a high-school diploma. LightHouse saved him.” Jhaydon is one of about 30 students who currently attend LightHouse through the school’s partnership with Holyoke Public Schools.

“We have a great working relationship with Holyoke Public Schools,” said Catherine Gobron, co-founder and executive director of LightHouse. “We are not aware of any partnership like this anywhere, between a public school district and a self-directed private school like ours.”