Future School of Fort Smith has begun construction on a new STEM center and three more classrooms as it prepares to add another grade level in the fall.

The building was once home to the pool at Girls, Inc., Superintendent Trish Flanagan said.

Flanagan said a donor (who she was not sure wanted to be identified) gave the school a greenhouse, which will go next to the STEM center.

Part of the premise of Future School is encouraging high school students to pursue internships and learn in real-world settings. The greenhouse will serve as a place for some students to work on projects related to their internships but will also be used by the science classes, she said.

Students tend to be interested in STEM because it lends itself to hands-on learning, and there will be many jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields in the foreseeable future, Flanagan said.

Because the charter school opened in the fall to 10th-grade students who will be moving up to 11th-grade in the fall, the classrooms are being built out of necessity.

"We need to have classroom space for two grades," Flanagan said.

The school can accept up to 150 students per grade, she said.

Another plot of land surrounding the school is planned to be used as a community garden where students can grow food, Flanagan said. Students who have internships at Packard Point Ranch have already started growing lettuce and kale.

Flanagan anticipates that there will be a ribbon cutting for the STEM center and new classrooms by the end of June and that they will be up and running for students in the fall.