Grace Academy plans $6 million expansion to be done by August

MARYSVILLE – Grace Academy broke ground Tuesday on a $6 million expansion that is set to be done by August.

“You can burn through $6 million pretty fast,” school administrator Timothy Lugg joked Monday.

Construction begins Wednesday on an addition that will include seven secondary classrooms and a cafeteria.

Lugg said with 320 students the school is near the high end of its enrollment historically. They want to make room for growth and also upgrade what they have at the 30-year-old school.

The key feature will be a state-of-the-art science lab. There will also be a new entrance facing the main parking lot and an elevator to become ADA compliant.

Lugg said seventh-to-12-grade classes are especially full. “We’ve had to juggle classes and teachers to make this work,” Lugg said, adding the elementary portion of the school will remain the same.

The expansion will be built between the elementary school and The Activity Center, the official name of the existing building, which already houses a gym, locker rooms, a performance stage, a commercial kitchen and seven classrooms. Lugg, who has been at the school since 1998, said only 10 percent of the students come from its neighboring Grace Bible Church. Students from 50 different churches attend the school.

As to why parents send their kids there, Lugg said it’s because of the small class sizes, the individual attention and that curriculum is integrated with the bible.

Grace Academy has served the community since 1977 offering education to students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. It is still raising money for the project through donations. That can be done by going online to graceacademy.net or by calling the school at 360-659-8517.

“We need another million dollars,” Lugg said at Tuesday’s ground-breaking.

John Zimmer, pastor and teacher at Grace Bible Church, said the addition was a long time coming. “We wrestled with it for three or four years,” he said.

The band played a number, and Zimmer joked: “This is what marching band is like” being out in the rain. “That’s why you picked symphonic band.”

Lugg said he’s excited about the new science room. “We won’t be giving any tours” of the old one, he said with a laugh.

He added teachers did a great job of giving kids a “thirst for science” despite the outdated facility.

He also is glad to have the elevator as they’ve had to turn students away in the past because they didn’t have one. More common was students with sports injuries struggling to get around.

Likewise he thanked those who work in the kitchen. “They produce food kids like,” despite their outdated facilities, Lugg said.

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