Posted: Sep 4, 2013 10:47 PM by Jamie Leary - MTN News
ANACONDA - AWARE is a statewide program that assists children with serious developmental and emotional disorders.
It has been more than two years since plans began to build a school especially for these children - now, it's finally ready.
Celina Cole, an AWARE student, said, "The classrooms are a little bit smaller and the school is a little bit bigger."
It is the perfect learning environment for Cole.
"The teachers here are better at teaching us and telling us what we need to do," she said.
Like Cole, most of her classmates at AWARE's Center for Excellence, have had an array of issues at their public school.
"They've just had a tough go at life," AWARE Special Education Teacher Kari Hoschdid, said.
Hoschdid has seen a huge improvement in the students that come to AWARE.
"Take Celina for instance - she is funny, smart, artistic...Just really nice to see her progress," Hoschdid said.
With the new school finally complete, the hope is to help even more children.
CEO of AWARE, Larry Noonan said, "Kids from Montana don't have to travel out of state. Hopefully we can bring kids from out of state in here."
The school is one of a kind in Montana. It currently has four classrooms and services 30 children living in AWARE Group group homes in Anaconda.
Their state-of-the-art cafeteria is also a place where kids can come and wind down. They can come shoot some hoops or just run around if they want.
They are also getting some games in here; they really spared no expense.
"This program does two things for these kids - they're important enough that there's a school here like this to help educate them," Noonan said.
Although the school has the capacity to serve up to 40 children, Noonan said that is not enough. He hopes to continue to develop the program.
The total financing for the project was approximately $3 million. Landscaping and an outdoor recreation area are expected to be completed by November.