Lincoln Skate Park Becomes High School for Creatives

May 14, 2021, 5:36 p.m. ·

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The Bay Skatepark, a favorite after-school hangout spot for Lincoln kids, will soon be a school for creatives and artists. Bay High is a collaborative focus program between Lincoln Public Schools and non profit Rabble Mill set to open in fall 2022.

When co-founder Mike Smith opened a community indoor skate park in 2012, he noticed kids would skip school to skate instead, so they changed opening hours.

The Bay is the state's largest and only public indoor skatepark (Photo by Melissa Rosales, NET).

"But it really got my mind thinking, 'What if they wanted to go to school here? Or what if they went to school here? Like, what if you loved where you went to school?" he said.

Next year, 50 juniors and 50 seniors could take classes like digital design, event marketing, and video production in Bay High.

LPS plans to hire two new teachers for the program, working alongside “teaching artists” like skate park director Matthew Ratliff. He describes himself as the school's PE skate teacher. The former sales representative for skate companies hopes to teach a lot of kids.

"Obviously, teaching them how to skate is fun and great but teaching them a lot of the business side of skateboarding, marketing, and the entrepreneurship side of that as well too," he said.

The Bay Co-Founder Mike Smith is from Imperial in Western Nebraska (Photo by Melissa Rosales, NET).

Co-founder Mike Smith said they believe the solution to attracting new talent in the city is to develop local talent.

"These kids are already creative. These kids are already filming each other, making skate videos, running their own fashion weekend events, throwing their own parking lot shows," he said. "These kids are already doing these things. They just don't know how to connect what they're already doing with a job."

Smith said Bay High will help kids turn their passions into skills and jobs that the community needs.