By Heather Morrison | September 8th, 2013

Long Beach’s newest charter school opened Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony as students arrived for their first day of school.

Intellectual Virtues Academy, a middle school, opened its doors at 3601 Linden Ave. with an initial enrollment of 56 students and a waiting list of more than a dozen. Administrators say they will hold enrollment at 54 students after the first day.

“I don’t have words to express how excited and thrilled I am to be a part of this amazing journey with the launch of Intellectual Virtues Academy,” Principal Jacquie Bryant said after the ceremony. “At our opening day, I caught a glimpse into how education at IVA will change our students’ lives and their understanding of themselves. I am overwhelmed by the commitment of our families to become a part of an intentional community equipping students to learn and live well.”

The school opened with two classes of 27 and 28 sixth grade students, two full-time teachers, two part-time elective teachers (for music and physical education), two part-time office staff and a full-time principal.

“In order to maintain a minimum enrollment of 50 students we have enrolled 56 students to account for possible attrition,” Eric Churchill, IVA board chair, said. “We are happy to say that on the first day of school our two classrooms were filled with 55 sixth-grade students who are eager to be a part of IVA. While we do expect some attrition over the coming weeks, we will aim to keep our class size small, between 25 and a maximum of 28 students.”

Administrators plan to add two classes of 25 students each over the course of the next three years, ultimately serving 150 students in grades six through eight, according to IVA board member Rebecca Irwin.

IVA’s curriculum is based on an education model aimed at fostering growth in “intellectual virtues,” the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner, Irwin said.

Teachers, board members and the students’ families have participated in a number of gatherings over the summer in preparation for the school’s opening. A Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) has already been formed, headed by newly elected president Janet Watt. Lisa McCarthy, the founder of Mark Twain Elementary School’s “Green Team” environmental program, will run the school’s recycling program.

The school is chartered by the Long Beach Unified School District and funded in part through a $1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, which funds both the school and the Intellectual Virtues & Education Project at Loyola Marymount University.