A new home for St. Paul’s acclaimed Avalon School

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Avalon School has moved from its ten-year location across from the Midway YMCA (University and Wheeler) to its new location, 700 Glendale Street, just southwest of Raymond and University Avenues. It has entered into a ten-year lease at its new location, which is a build-out project nearing completion.

Avalon is an independent public charter school with a middle school and high school comprising grades 7-12.  It will begin its new, 11th school year on September 6th. Its inaugural enrollment in 2001 was 120 students in grades 9-12. It added a middle school in 2005. Its 2011-2012 student body of 160 high school and 25 middle school students are primarily from St. Paul, but many of its students come from across the metro area to Attend Avalon due to its unique character and success: Avalon has been recognized as one of America’s best high schools by US News and World Report and was identified as a top high school in Minnesota by Business Week in 2009.

Avalon offers a unique, non-traditional education program described as project based learning. It utilizes personalized learning plans, student-created projects, seminars, and partnerships with parents and the community. The school is operated and administered by its teachers rather than the customary principal/director model; it has no principal. Carrie Bakken, Avalon’s program coordinator, said that parents and students with educational challenges and special needs find Avalon’s personalized learning approach very attractive.

Located near the intersections of University Avenue/Highway 280 and University/Raymond, Avalon’s new location is dominated by Central Corridor light rail transit construction and traffic congestion. Carrie Bakken, Avalon’s program coordinator, admits getting to the school can be challenging. “It’s a bit dicey and inconvenient now with construction, but will give us great access in the future,” she said. She pointed out some additional benefits of the new location: great access to the University of Minnesota for students doing a post secondary enrollment option, use of the South St. Anthony Park Recreation Center, and easy access to Desnoyer Park and the Mississippi River.  Bakken also noted, “There are lots of nonprofits in the area for our students to get involved in.”

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.