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CREC holds groundbreaking ceremony for new Ana Grace Academy of the Arts School Building

On, Tuesday, April 16, CREC held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new school building in Bloomfield. The state-of-the-art facility will eventually house the CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts, a Pre-Kindergarten to eighth-grade school that will combine two current CREC schools – CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary School and CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School. Presently, CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary School is located in Avon and is Pre-Kindergarten through fifth-grade, CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School is in the Colt Building in Hartford, and is grades six through eight.

CREC renamed the Academy of the Arts Elementary School in 2014 to honor Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, daughter of CREC alumni and former teachers Nelba Marquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene, who was one of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

“As proud alumni and former employees of CREC, who deeply value arts education, it is a very fitting tribute to Ana Grace and all children to have a permanent and dedicated school for arts excellence in the early and middle years,” said Nelba Marquez-Greene. “May this day and every day forward on these grounds be ones of joy, peace, and beauty-making.  May every staff, every family, and every child feel safe; and know that love wins within its walls. We are so thankful to CREC for this dedication.”

Members of the school community, the Bloomfield Board of Education and Town Council, the State Department of Education, CREC leadership, former and current students and parents, and special guests were in attendance. The ceremony, emceed by CREC Deputy Executive Director Sandy Cruz-Serrano, featured remarks by the school’s Principals Patricia Phelan and Bo Ryan, CREC Executive Director Greg Florio, Superintendent of CREC Schools Tim Sullivan, Chair of the Bloomfield Board of Education Don Harris, and Ana Grace’s brother Isaiah Marquez-Greene. Over 40 students from the Elementary School came from Avon to perform three songs for the crowd as well.

“The construction of the Ana Grace Academy of the Arts has been a long process over many years,” said Florio, “and the only part that was missing was a permanent home, and today we begin that process.”

“We began with 20 teachers and 150 pre-K and Kindergartners seven years ago,” said Phelan, “since then our school has grown to over 475 students from Pre-K to fifth-grade, and nearly 80 educators. Today it is thrilling to realize our dream of a new school, one that is being specially designed for us.”

“My wish for the families and students attending this school is that they truly value what an education in the arts can do. That they have fun and share their learning,” said Isaiah Marquez-Greene. “That they listen to their teachers. That they dream big. That they use what they learn to prepare them for a world that they might never imagine.”

“Bringing kids together, to learn together, is going to make our society better,” said Sullivan during his closing remarks. “[The new building] is a down payment on our future so that our society when I get old, and [the students present] are the ones at the microphone, will be a better place.”

The new building is slated to open in August 2021 on the 29-acre site. Plans call for more than 157,000 square feet of space, to accommodate 876 students. The bus loop will be lined with painted steel walkway canopies with photovoltaic panels, which will also serve as a roof covering. The East portion of the site will host a grass playfield, while the West portion will host playscapes, adjacent to the elementary school program.

Plans also include middle school science labs, magnet-themed classrooms, and a combined lobby and art gallery space, which will surround a Black Box Theater for student performances.

CREC Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary School’s website is http://agaaems.crecschools.org. CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School’s website is http://haams.crecschools.org.


Members of the Marquez-Greene Family and CREC Executive Leadership


Students with Nelba Marquez-Greene, Greg Florio, Tim Sullivan, Patti Phelan, and Bruce Douglas

An architectural rendering of the exterior of the building

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