CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Renovations to the old National Theatres building on Staples Street, that will give the Richard Milburn Academy charter high school a new campus, should be complete in a few of months.
"We've brought in our own architects to build out (the old theater) to be an educational facility," RMA Director of Community Outreach and Marketing Rhett LaRose said. "(With) this much square footage -- it's really going to be able to service our new students a lot better."
The new campus will have room for approximately 400 students. That's more than RMA's current campus -- a converted bank building on Everhart Road -- where the school has operated since 1999.
"There really was a limitation on what we could do to transform that (old bank building) into an educational space," LaRose said. "I think that we've done a fantastic job with that."
LaRose anticipates renovations being complete in May. The school will hold a grand opening and a series of open-house events, before beginning classes at the new campus at the start of the new school year in August.
"I think this building is going to be fantastic for us," LaRose said. "I think it'll really allow us to reach another level of this community. And we offer something a little different that I just hope more people are aware of."
That difference is a four-hour school day. Teachers condense a normal curriculum, so students leave the four-year program with diplomas that are the equivalent of those at public schools.
A shorter school day creates opportunities for students.
"I came here, because I have work during the day -- in the morning," RMA senior Brianna Campos said. "So, after work I just come here."
Campos and fellow senior, Gabriel Cabrera, will graduate before the new campus opens. Or will they?
"I honestly might just fail this year just so I can go to the new school next year," Cabrera joked. "No, but I'm pretty excited for the students next year."
The excitement extends past the classroom. The neighborhood where the old theater sits will now have one fewer abandoned building serving as an eyesore.
"We're hopefully through this (renovation) process going to really beautify, not just the building, but the area by bringing a new resource to it," LaRose said.