MCA breaks ground for upper school expansion

David Broyles

February 13, 2014

Millennium charter Academy’s Upper School Expansion Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday afternoon was marked by exuberance for education as well as progress the school makes as it expands.

“It’s exciting that we are going to finally have a high school,” said Headmaster Kirby McCrary, noting the question had been asked almost from the beginning of the school. “I had students this morning as we were sitting up the chairs ask when we would have a college.”

He noted the school had been directly working toward the expansion for two years. He discussed the school’s mission to create learners and thinkers.

“It is our vision to develop intelligent, virtuous citizens who pursue truth, goodness and beauty and lead in a constitutional republic. The upper school will help us fulfill this vision. It is a wonderful process to see students not just acting but becoming these leaders,”McCrary said.

State Rep. Sarah Stevens reminded students in grades 5-8 she has been a neighbor to the academy and praised community and parent involvement for the school’s success. All classes were invited with younger students choosing to come out later in the day for pictures of turning dirt at the site.

“You don’t have a traditional classroom where you sit for eight hours a day. I’d like to see MCA become an early college of learning one day,” said Stevens. “Take advantage of what you have here. This is just what the state is looking at, what gives you the education you need.”

MCA board member Renee Francis thanked everyone for coming out on the chilly afternoon and said she had dreamed of the day for many years.

“So many people have asked for an MCA high school over the course of this school’s history, I am happy today to be able to say that by next August, we’ll have our first ninth grade class right here where we gathered today. We believe Millennium Charter Academy is making a difference for the children of this area and with this expansion it will be able to make even more of a difference for more students.”

Other notables in attendance included Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran, city commissioners Dean Brown and Shirley Brinkley, county commissioner Larry Phillips and Chamber of Commerce President Betty Ann Collins. Omega Construction Company, which is the firm contracted to complete the structure was represented by Chief Executive Officer Paul Covington, President Barry Hennings, Vice Presidents Lee Cook and Chad Motsinger and Chief Financial Officer Greg Marshall. Representatives of the Mount Airy Police and Fire Department were also on hand.

Surrey Bank and Trust was represented by President Ted Ashby, Senior VP and Chief Lending Officer Peter Pequeno and VP and Commercial Loan Officer Corey Tucker.

MCA Board Members present for the ceremony included Francis, Chris Willingham, Erik Moledor, Susie “Shipley and Cheryl Reinstadler and Philip Byers. School administration was represented by Upper School Director Pam Braley. Faculty and staff representatives were Lesa Martin, Sandy Cave and Martha Arrington. Also on hand were Angie Noonkester-Draughn, parent teacher organization president, and MCA Campaign for Achievement Chairperson Dawn rook.

School officials said athletics will also play a large role in the high school. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, track and field, and cheerleading at the junior varsity level were all scheduled to begin this year with plans for more offerings each following year. McCrary confirmed there aren’t any plans for a football team because of student body size and expenses, but it could be a possibility in the future.

Early plans for the project indicate it will be built adjoining the end of the current middle school wing, using the “dismissal” door as the interior entrance to the new addition. This will house ninth and tenth grades for the next two school years. This building will have six classrooms, a fitness room, and a commons area, which can be used for eating, student meetings, and group collaboration.

Officials estimate the school can educate about one thousand students in K-12 when the completed school is at capacity. Financing will come from private donations and carefully selected loans. Officials estimate the cost of the entire expansion project at 1.4 million including outfitting and furnishing the new classrooms.

David Broyles may be reached at 336-325-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.