Photo Essays: From liquor store to school

For many years, the northeast corner of First Avenue and Lester Street was home to a convenience store that sold little more than liquor. Place was a magnet for drug buyers, sellers, and other nefarious types.

We neighbors weren’t too pleased with the goings-on, and most of us steered clear of the store. There wasn’t anything that it sold that couldn’t be purchased at the supermarket on Grant Road at First Avenue.

One day, I was bicycling toward First and Lester and found it blocked off by police crime scene tape. The cops told me to take a different route, as they were still investigating a shooting at the store.

Wasn’t too long afterward that the store closed, and the property sat empty for a while.

Then, good news! The International School of Tucson is moving in! And it’s taking over a good part of Lester Street east of First Avenue.

IST is an independent school that offers bilingual instruction in Chinese/English, French/English, German/English and Spanish/English. The motto is "Open the World to Your Child."

IST gutted the interior of the old convenience store, then converted it into classroom space. The back of the building, where drug deals used to go down, is now walled in and serves as one of the IST playgrounds.

These days, it’s a delight to go by and hear kids laughing and playing instead of having to be on the lookout for hoodlums who used to skulk around behind the store. This curb, at the southeast corner of First and Lester, pretty well sums things up…

Photo essays - curbstone advice to be nice at the International School of Tucson, Arizona

Just south of IST’s friendly curbstone message is another walled playground. But, since it’s an International School wall, it’s a bright, cheerful wall. Like this…

Photo essays - colorful wall at the International School of Tucson, Arizona

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