District administrators and staffers were on hand last Thursday when Ridgeland School District 122 cut the ribbon to open its new Fine Arts Center. (Photo supplied by Ridgeland School District 122)

District administrators and staffers were on hand last Thursday when Ridgeland School District 122 cut the ribbon to open its new Fine Arts Center. (Photo supplied by Ridgeland School District 122)

Ridgeland School District 122 unveils Fine Arts Center

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By Kelly White

Highlighting its love of the arts is Ridgeland School District 122.

The district proudly showcased its new Fine Arts Center during ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 6500 W. 95th St. in Oak Lawn.

“The layout of the Fine Arts Center has an aesthetic that promotes teamwork and invites students to think outside of the box,” Marcus Hostetler, Band Director for Ridgeland School District 122, said. “This building will provide the district with an opportunity to expose students to more avenues of fine arts while also allowing them to see how these disciplines intersect through a cultural and historical lens.”

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Students were able to participate in art-themed activities on Thursday night at Ridgeland School District 122’s Fine Arts Center’s grand opening. (Photo by Kelly White)

The Fine Arts building is located in a former Party City building. It will house the district’s Family and Consumer Science class that will be taught in the new culinary arts kitchen, the entire art program, which has a new Kiln room for pottery work, and a band room with individual student practice space and general music classes.

“I love the variety of experiences the Fine Arts Center will provide to our students and community,” Julia Skendzel, Art Teacher at Simmons Middle School, said. “Students will get to explore tactile, hands-on creative modalities during their school day in the new spaces the Fine Arts Center contains. We are so excited to get started.”

During Thursday night’s ceremony, faculty, staff, students and their families were invited to tour the new Fine Arts Center, have fun with interactive demos, view community art projects and enjoy light refreshments.

TRIA Architecture, based out of Burr Ridge, created the elaborate plans for the building and International Contractors Inc., based out of Elmhurst, handled construction of the project that began in July of 2022 and ended in June.

“The school board has had many conversations about wanting to expand elective course work for our students, some of the course work suggested by staff required a more unique approach to spacing,” Supt. Joseph Matise said. “When the opportunity presented itself to purchase the Party City property it made sense for the district to purchase the property to provide more space to house our new electives.”

Prior to this, the district had not had any type of Fine Arts Center before, and school officials are excited about the many opportunities it will be providing its students.

The district’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes will be utilizing the building daily and band students throughout the district will be in the building after school.

The district will also be looking to host evening artistic activities for the entire district to take part in during the evening hours.

“I like the opportunity it will give students to be exposed to new authentic hands-on educational experiences, and the opportunity for the district to support after school activities for students and families,” Matise said.

Ridgeland School District 122 covers parts of Oak Lawn and Bridgeview. The district operates Simmons Middle School, Oak Lawn; Columbus Manor Elementary School, Oak Lawn; Harnew Elementary School, Oak Lawn; Kolb Elementary School, Oak Lawn; and Lieb Elementary School, Bridgeview.

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Ridgeland School District 122 unveiled its new Fine Arts Center last week in Oak Lawn. (Photo by Kelly White)

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