School shows off new home

CDT photo

Jeffrey Guiser grabbed a pair of oversized gold scissors and cut the ceremonial ribbon for NHS Human Services School State College’s new facility on Fox Hill Road on Tuesday.

He couldn’t have been happier about the new school.

The 17-year-old was the first student at the school when it opened on Science Park Road in 2007.

But he said it was a place that left a lot to be desired.

“I love it here,” said Guiser, of Huntingdon. “I like it best because the fact was that before there was a lot of chaos, and here it’s more organized.”

The two-story building near the University Park Airport is an 8,738-square-foot facility that provides more classroom space — and students with more individualized learning, Director of Operations Brandon Maines said.

It also includes a playground and a larger sensory room.

School started Aug. 26, but the official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was Tuesday.

Students, like sixth-grader Hunter Henney, gave guests tours of the new facility. He stopped at each classroom and gave the lowdown on what happens in each class.

The NHS Human Services Schools are licensed private academic schools that combine behavioral expertise and educational services for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and emotional support needs.

It serves students ages 5 to 21 in kindergarten to 12th grades. Students with special needs are able to attend high school until age 21, Maines said.

The school operates on the same schedule as the State College Area School District, but serves students in eight school districts in central Pennsylvania.

Maines said the school is 100 percent funded by local districts it serves at no cost to students’ families.

“We saw tremendous growth and knew we needed to find a new place to expand,” Maines said.

NHS School State College started seven years ago with one student. It now serves 30 students, Maines said.

Building owners said they were happy with what the building turned into. The property was purchased late last year as foreclosure — about the time the school was looking to move.

NHS Human Services is leasing the space, Maines said.

It’s partnered with the YMCA of State College for weekly physical education programs, Maines said.

This will also be the first full year of Building Bridges for Girls, an open residential program for girls and young women ages 13 to 18 who are “troubled,” Maines said.

The program provides a safe environment for girls who are at risk of needing more restrictive levels of care and for those who may be transitioning from a secure residential program, according to information from the NHS website.

Maines said it helps the girls grow in maturity and helps turn them into young women. There are five girls in the program this year.

But the overall mission of the school is to help students transition back into regular school districts and out into the community.

All graduates receive a diploma from the school district in which they live, Maines said.