Smart center: New art center opens for Peoria students

Do you remember a space in Peoria once called the Arizona Challenger Space Center? It closed in August of 2017 and the Peoria School District has now repurposed it into a smart center.

"The great thing is we have a full array of visual arts from art one, all the way to advance our programming," said Robert Panzer, director of arts education for the Peoria School District.

Panzer says when the opportunity to move into the old space center -- which is adjacent to Sunrise High School -- came up, he knew the district had to turn it into a space where students can learn and grow.

"Really, what we’re doing all the way down the line here is we are creating that whole child critical-thinking problem solving, that creativity, the things that employers want, the things that we are providing in these arts, classrooms, as well as expression and those opportunities that the arts create for every child," he said.

"I think it’s really interesting. It’s something new and [a] new way of doing things. It’s just different, so we’re gonna see where it goes," student Ashley Livingston said.

Curriculum includes ceramics, where students like Livingston can make pottery, even whistles, and really immerse themselves in the art they're creating.

"I like making it, that’s the best part -- go in the potter's wheel, getting in the zone with the music," Livingston said.

There's photography, digital photography and a dark room.

"We provide in the Peoria District arts programming all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade, but here at Sunrise High School, AZ specifically, every student on this campus has the opportunity to be involved in the arts," Panzer said.

The hope is in the future, community members will be able to take advantage of this awesome space, as well.