A two-phase expansion project at Liberty Christian School is expected to get underway next month.
Phase 1 of the Argyle private school’s “Great Expectations” campaign is slated to include a new upper school, which is to accommodate about 600 high school students; six new lower school classrooms to be shared with the school’s Early Childhood Education wing; and a new lower school gymnasium and lunchroom.
The school’s commons area entrance, roadways and parking will also be expanded to allow “smoother” pickup and drop-off for parents.
The first phase of the project is being funded with about $18 million in contributions from the families of students and alumni and through corporate gifts.
To kick off the construction, the school had a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this week. Parents, students and staff gathered outside the school’s property to pray over the land where Liberty Christian will construct its new upper school, said spokeswoman Michelle Simms.
Officials also held a stone dedication, a reference to Old Testament Scripture in which the Israelites would perform a standing stone ceremony to acknowledge a profound action by God. Fifteen students representing each grade level from preschool to 12th grade brought a stone representing a character trait, such as wisdom and joy, for which students in each grade level would be praying.
The 1,300-plus student body then gathered in groups to pray for the school, the future and other requests relating to the school community and its expansion.
It was also announced during the ceremony that the new upper school would be named for school founder and president Rodney Haire and his wife, Judy. The groundbreaking ceremony concluded with the 15 student representatives and board members using shovels to turn over the dirt.
“It was beautiful to see the unity of students and staff ... looking forward to what God will do next,” Simms said.
The first of the projects to get underway in Phase 1 will be the roadways and parking, which are slated to begin this summer. Starting first with work on the roadways will allow for infrastructure to be in place for the other projects, Simms said.
Construction for the upper school, for which a start date is not yet set, could take about 18 months, though school officials are anxious to complete the project “as soon as possible,” Simms said. Construction of the new upper school will allow middle school students who are currently in a “portable village” to move to the existing upper school space, Simms said.
“Obviously this area ... is growing tremendously, so we want to make sure we’re prepared to minister to families who are looking for Christian education,” she said.
While the school is growing, Rodney Haire said leaders are trying not to lose sight of the overall mission. He said they’re striving to keep offering families a place that’s not too large where their children can be academically challenged.
“I think the growth has been controlled,” he said. “Liberty has a certain culture that we work very hard to achieve, and growing too fast can change that.”
Fundraising is underway for Phase 2 of the campaign, which schools officials are saying will be the epicenter of the school. Phase 2 is expected to include a worship and performing arts center that can seat 1,000 people and a double gymnasium.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.