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St. Paul School Celebrates Success After Near-Closure

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A St. Paul school is celebrating big accomplishments after it was almost forced to close its doors.

Four Seasons A+ Elementary was on the chopping block last year because of budget cuts and low enrollment.

But thanks to the hard work of parents and teachers who pleaded with the district to give them another chance, the school is making a remarkable comeback.

It was a year-round school before but part of the agreement is they had to ditch the year-round calendar. The students are currently busy rehearsing for their end-of-the-year musical.

Only a couple of days left of school and it may look like funny business for these first graders. But they are actually playing pigs in the end of the year musical, “Farmhouse 5.”

The musical has been a tradition since Four Seasons A+ — a performing arts school — opened 15 years ago. This year, it feels more like a celebration after a year of big changes.

For a time last year, dance teacher Sidney Pudwill didn’t know if she’d have a job.

“It was crushing because this has been my home I’ve never taught anywhere else,” she said.

After pleas with the district to keep the school open — the principal and teachers regrouped — and have focused on growing the school.

“We’re growing all over the place. We’re adding two new programs — a deaf and hard of hearing program and a language academy program,” said teacher Sidney Pudwill.

Enrollment is expected to jump more than 20 percent this coming fall.

“They kept the core of what was good before — and they’ve made it better,” said Jenifer Tizcareno, a parent of a sixth grader.

She said the school has done wonders for her child.

“She spoke out to save the school, she’s the president of the student council — now the lead in the musical,” she said.

And she’s thankful her first grader will get the same opportunity.

“I couldn’t imagine her going anywhere else,” Tizcareno said.

The teachers and students made strides in standardized testing this year, too — improving both reading and math scores.

And for the first time, the principal says they’re adding an afterschool program called Discovery Club.

The principal said new programs like the Discovery Club are part of the reason they were able to bring in more students. The language academy program for immigrants, in particular, is drawing quite a few new students.

But the principal and teachers have also done, and will continue to do, a lot of legwork.

They’ve been talking to people in the neighborhood — and area businesses — campaigning for their school and it’s working.

Their final performances of “Farmhouse 5″ are on Thursday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the school, 318 Moore St. in St. Paul.

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