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The science and arts curriculum will be effortlessly blended in York Country Day School's $14.6 million expansion, set to break ground Friday morning.

The new 40,000-square-foot science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) and Ann B. Barshinger Performing Arts Center will nearly double the footprint of the independent K-12 college prep school.

Funds for the center were collected from private donors through a capital campaign, and the center is slated for completion in August 2016.

It is designed to facilitate the school's new STEAM program and offer a dedicated space for robotics, engineering, video production, digital arts and sound design projects.

The center will be the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania and will facilitate the already highly integrated programming at York Country Day, Principal Christine Heine said.

STEAM: STEAM programs are designed to unify the learning experience rather than isolate subjects in separate class settings.

The performing arts and STEAM center will be a single, two-story facility with labs and classrooms that surround the performance center, which also will double as a project-based learning center, Heine said.

Heine said she took inspiration for the center from the first female African-American astronaut, Mae Jemison, who said, "The difference between science and the arts is not that they are different sides of the same coin even, or even different parts of the same continuum, but rather, they are manifestations of the same thing.

"The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity."

Following this philosophy, Heine said, is one of the best ways to prepare students for their futures.

"When the arts and sciences are blended very intentionally is where the greatest innovation occurs," she said. "You're able to take complex ideas and make them very digestible."

Curriculum: Students at York Country Day are afforded a unique curriculum, Heine said.

"We value and try to encourage the love of learning in all of our students and in all things, so their passions vary and so their passions run deep," she said of their diverse curriculum.

"We are trying to move towards a relevant 21st-century education."

In addition to general education requirements — math, science, English, history and a foreign language — York Country Day, as an affiliate of York College, offers upperclassmen the opportunity to take up to three college courses per semester.

Students have recently enrolled in anthropology, art appreciation, music theory, psychology and marketing. They can also round out their schedules with classes of interest to them.

"Rather than taking their five courses a day, students will take others that blend with their interests and desired learning experience, so they have the opportunity to be really innovative," Heine said.

"They're able to invest their time and passion in something that really resonates with them."

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