First charter school opening in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Monday is going to be a day of firsts for Richmond schools.

It's the first day of classes at the first charter school in the city.

Patrick Henry has been empty for the last four years. Six months of work and half a million dollars later, the school is ready to open its doors once again.

Volunteers spent hours this weekend putting the last coats of paint on the walls and setting up classrooms before nearly 200 students start class Monday.

Henry Simmons is one of about fifty people that showed up to volunteer.

"If you look around here," Simmons said. "You can see the construction, you can see how much time and effort has gone into making this place originally a beautiful and substantial building and it's coming back to life."

The 90 year-old building has been largely empty since 2008. The new Patrick Henry will still be in the Richmond Public Schools system but it will be a little different this time around -- it's the first elementary charter school in Virginia.

Kristen Larson is the vice president of the Patrick Henry Board of Directors. She says students here will wear uniforms, be in school year-round and have a more hands-on curriculum than other public school students.

"That's the unique part about our building," Larson said. "Our children have gardens and spend a lot of time outdoors learning their lessons."

Volunteers came from all over Metro Richmond this weekend to make sure everything is ready for this first class of students at the new Patrick Henry.

"We worked together to make this happen," Simmons said. "The kids know. They know people pitched in to make this work."

Patrick Henry will have students from Kindergarten to fifth grade.

There are still spots open for kindergarten and first grade. Any students living in the city can apply.

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