Rain didn't stop a groundbreaking ceremony at noon Friday for the $27-million Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.
Dignitaries used shovels painted by the school's visual arts students to scoop dry dirt under one of many tents set up for the event, which drew an estimated 150 people.
The new building will rise at the corner of E. Third and Polk streets in south Bethlehem. Construction begins this summer. The school is scheduled for completion during the 2014-15 school year.
The 87,000-square-foot facility will give the 10-year-old school much-needed space for its growing student body and programs. It will have 19 classrooms, a 350-seat theater, four large dance studios, digital art laboratories, music rooms, a visual arts gallery and a rooftop performance venue and rooftop science laboratory.
The school has outgrown its current location at 675 E. Broad St. in Bethlehem.
More than 450 students from more than 40 school districts across eastern Pennsylvania attend the school. The new building will be built to accommodate up to 650 students.
Students major in theater, dance, music, visual art or figure skating at the free public charter high school, which is audition-based.
The school is accepting contributions towards it $5 million capital campaign goal.
One of the guest speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony was Eve Metzger, daughter of Anne and Bruce Lawrence, who have contributed $3 million to that campaign.
Other guest speakers included Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and State Senators Lisa Boscola and Pat Browne.
Also speaking were Diane LaBelle, the school's executive director, and Mario Acerra, president of its board.
Information about contributing to the capital campaign is available by calling Debra Store at 610-868-2971, ext. 154 or on the campaign website .