The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

September 25, 2009

Branching out | Laurel Arts opens education, dance center

By TOM LAVIS

TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

Mark and Katie Spiker of Somerset debated whether they should send their 3-year-old daughter, Hazey, to preschool this year.

That is until they learned that the newly opened Laurel Arts Education and Dance Center at 601 Georgian Place in Somerset Township would offer Studio Kids, a private academic preschool similar to the one Katie Spiker attended when she was a child.

“I remember going to preschool at the Dressler Center (for the Arts) and enjoyed doing the artsy things such as music, working in clay and learning how to use colors when drawing,” she said.

“I want Hazey to develop the same love of art that I enjoyed.”

The Studio Kids program, which is offered two days a week, three hours a day, is one portion of the activities and classes offered at the state-of-the-art facility.

Three former stores at the shopping plaza were incorporated and transformed over the past six months into a facility that would be the envy of any community.

The public will have an opportunity to see the new facility during a grand opening from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Dance and wellness classes have been held at the new center since Aug. 24.

Guided tours will be conducted by board and staff members during the grand opening.

The center’s instructional space features three dance studios, one art studio and two classrooms.

Additional space is used for an office, art and dance retail store, lobby, staff kitchen, break room and a maintenance storage area.

Michael Knecht, Laurel Arts executive director, said the new center has experienced impressive enrollment as dance-class registration reached 210, and the Studio Kids preschool also has reached the targeted enrollment goal in its first year.

Many Somerset County residents have used Laurel Arts as a springboard to instill the love of the arts into their families’ lives that many who attended in the past like Katie Spiker are introducing their own children to the new center.

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