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Hazleton Area expands presence to Laurel Mall

Construction is underway on a new cyber academy location, with space for registration, esports, and more.

HAZLETON, Pa. — The Laurel Mall in Hazle Township is a success story we don't often hear about — a mall filled with tenants and a waiting list to rent space.

The framing is being built for the mall's newest tenant — the Hazleton Area School District's Cyber Academy.

"It's a school in itself with over 1,000 students, 30 full-time staff members. It's a small little district in and of itself," said Hazleton Area's assistant superintendent Robert Mehalick.

Rooms will be available for teachers to use for online lessons. More space is in the back for counseling or testing needs.

"That is really our intent, to give these kids the very, very best cyber education. If this is the way that they're choosing to learn, then we're going to make certain that they have every available opportunity to be successful," added Mehalick.

The school district will be using about 9,000 square feet inside the Laurel Mall. In addition to the Cyber Academy, there will be space for an esports program, for registration that's centrally located in the community, and a school spirit store.

"We'll have backpacks, pens, and pencils, anything that promotes the Hazleton Area Cougar," said Mehalick.

Leaders at the mall are happy to have something new inside the mall, outside of retail and food.

"You have service now. You have education," said manager Rocco Arruzzo. "It's good for the community. It's convenient for the parents, for the children, the teachers, the administration. I mean, you have your parking, your bus transportation, so it becomes so convenient for everyone."

"There's always something happening here, and we're going to add to that happening, and it's going to, in my opinion, it's going to draw more people into the mall," said Hazleton Area Superintendent Brian Uplinger. "Parents will be here waiting for their child to be tutored or to have their computer fixed, and we'll give them an opportunity to walk around and see what's available to them."

School officials hope to complete construction by the fall.

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