CIRCLEVILLE - A $2.5 million construction project is nearing completion at Heritage Nazarene Church, which officials say will not only add space for the church's growing membership but also expand opportunities to create the next generation of leaders through the high school at New Hope Christian Academy.
According to Dr. Frank Martin III, head of school for New Hope, students are expected to move into the new facility as early as mid-April.
"Internally, the facility will be done," Martin said. "There will still be some excavating and other things externally to complete, but we will be able to move students in and let them have use of the new facility for at least four to six weeks before the end of this school year."
The new addition is the culmination of the Tomorrow Beings Today capital campaign that kicked off in May of 2012 to expand the existing church building to provide a high school gymnasium, seven classrooms including a science lab, a conference room, office complex, nursery and cafe, according to Richard Coyan, executive director of Heritage Nazarene Church.
"It's definitely a partnership between the church and the school," Coyan said. "In addition to the added space for the school, we can use the gymnasium space for the Upward basketball program, additional nursery space for our children's ministry, additional classrooms for our church services, and additional space for fellowship, including the cafe with a seating capacity for about 60 people."
Coyan said the Heritage congregation averages about 850 people on a Sunday, representing a 75 percent growth for the church in the last five years.
"This new addition is definitely a multi-use facility for both the church and the school, and we believe it supports the growth of both," Coyan said.
For New Hope Christian Academy, the space will provide resources to accommodate a full high school which is being added by grade level each year.
Previously serving early learning (age 18 months) through eighth grade, New Hope added a ninth grade class in the 2013-14 school year and 10th grade this school year. The school will add 11th and 12th grades over the next two years and will graduate its first class of seniors in May of 2017.
The school also is designated a STEAM school, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics and focuses on the infusion of high-level mathematics and science in the curriculum.
"That's one of the things we've been working very diligently to achieve," Martin said.
New Hope welcomed 226 students through the door in kindergarten through 10th grade this year, Martin said. Coyan said about 100 additional children also are served through its early learning program.
While the growth has been challenging, Martin said the faculty and staff have been "phenomenal." He expects several teachers to move positions as the next two grade levels are added, and the school will be hiring several new teachers along with a high school guidance counselor.
"The guidance counselor will be helping the academic dean and be a conduit for 11th graders to complete college applications and those kinds of things," he said.
The school also has entered partnerships with Ohio Christian University and Mt. Vernon Nazarene University for programs like post-secondary education and admission agreements that will provide a path for New Hope students to enter college as long as they meet the academic criteria, Martin said. Partnership agreements are currently being negotiated with other universities, as well.
"In three more years, we are prayerful that we will have graduates of New Hope in college and doing well," Martin said.
The addition of the high school and the ability for students to complete their education at New Hope is also a benefit for college-bound students, Martin said.
"Consistency is really huge from an academic and college prep standpoint," he said. "Universities don't like to see multiple changes in a student's academic profile, so staying committed to a great school like New Hope Christian Academy adds to the potential for success beyond high school."
Martin said the ultimate goal is for New Hope Christian Academy to become the premiere Christian leadership college prep school in the state of Ohio, and part of that goal is a focus on character and leadership in its students from the youngest age.
"The character piece is huge," Martin said. "The question of how do we develop leaders is big for us here at New Hope. We believe there is a lack of ethical leadership in the world today, and the underpinning of our approach is developing the servant leader and teaching them to be principled leaders."
New Hope will begin offering its first Leadership and Ethics course next year as a humanities elective, he said, partnered with Growing Leaders Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia. The high school course will compliment the "Statesman" environment at the school that has even become its mascot.
"Students in every grade level learn what a Statesman is," Martin said. "The school board and the student body recite the Statesman's Creed, which is a promise to use wisdom and integrity to make a difference in the world today."
Chartered through the Ohio Department of Education as a non-public school, Martin said some scholarships are available based on need and financial criteria. The admission team also looks at grades, behavior in the classroom and other factors.
New Hope Christian Academy has scheduled open house events on March 30 for grades K-5, April 20 for grades 6-11 and May 4 for everyone. All open house events begin at 6:30 p.m.