Students Experience New Center in the Square in Roanoke

Roanoke, VA - There are just a few weeks to go before a completely revamped Center in the Square is set to reopen.

The downtown Roanoke attraction is starting to build ongoing relationships with the community as part of their plan for success.

Friday, they put that plan into motion as the first group of students visited Center in the Square and met some of the center's newest residents.

Fishburn Elementary School is one of just two schools in the entire Commonwealth that is recognized for excellence in Environmental Science. A fact that makes the school's collaboration with Center in the Square an easy fit as the nonprofit works to integrate the community into Roanoke's premier arts and cultural hub.

"They can have programmatic things that are SOL compliant. We have curriculum that is written so we can invite the schools down and have an actual lesson," said Julee Goodman, vice president of development.

The first chance to test this new approach belongs to these students who came down to watch a 6,000 gallon aquarium take on a bunch of new residents. The main goal of the day, though, is to adopt some of these fish.

"Our classrooms are going to choose them and name them and help support them through their time here while the public comes to visit," said Matt Newton, a teacher at Fishburn Elementary School.

Three classes planning to adopt three fish doesn't seem like a big deal, but to Center in the Square, the relationship is the first of hopefully many.

And to the kids, the experience of picking the fish and becoming part of the Center's rebirth is also just a beginning that everyone involved hopes will keep the kids coming back for years to come.

"This is our first exposure to the facilities here but we are hoping in the future the kids can continue coming in the summer and into the next few school years to help really enrich the curriculum here and to enrich the public's educational experience as they come here to Center in the Square," said Newton.

Center in the Square now houses the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the History Museum of Western Virginia and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, among other cultural attractions.

The grand re-opening for the Center in the Square is set for May 18.