CHUBBUCK — It’s been six months since Gem Prep: Pocatello charter school moved into the former Sears store at the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck, and officials say things are going great so far.
“We love it. You have no idea that you are in a former department store when you stand inside the school,” Shay Angelo, director of development for Gem Innovation Schools, wrote in an email response to the Journal. “We have a great deal of space to continue our planned expansion to serve students in grades kindergarten through 12th. We also have enough space to support families in our online school as well.”
The location is also much quieter than she expected it to be.
“If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t even know the school was connected to the mall,” she wrote.
While it may seem unusual for a school to move into a mall, officials say the location was just what they were looking for.
The public charter school used to be located at the end of a residential street and people sometimes had a hard time finding it, according to Angelo. The new location provides easier access, increases visibility and connects the school to the city of Chubbuck. It also offers plenty of room to grow.
“In our previously leased facility, we were busting out at the seams, so to speak, had no cafeteria or gymnasium, and used modular buildings for supplemental space,” Angelo wrote. “We are very grateful to have this brand new space in the center of the community.”
Thanks to the 74,000-square-foot former department store and three acres of exterior space, Gem Prep: Pocatello now has a playground, full-size gymnasium, maker-space library, lunchroom, large classrooms, office spaces, as well as a common area and small conference rooms for secondary students, according to Angelo. In addition, the campus has a resource center for the state-wide online school, Gem Prep: Online, along with more offices and common space.
And there’s still extra room in the building.