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C.S. Lewis mounts capital campaign

The school has already raised $258,000 toward the $500,000 needed to pay for recent and upcoming renovations


The long-term vision for C.S. Lewis Academy is to unify its pre-school, elementary, middle and high school programs onto one campus.

Merging with Open Bible School and moving its high school and middle school students onto the former Open Bible campus on North College this year was a big step in that direction, as were the renovations to the classrooms and gymnasiums over the summer that made the move possible.by: SETH GORDON - Our house - The C.S. Lewis Academy volleyball team plays a Casco League district tournament game Oct. 26. The new wooden floor and bleachers, which allowed the Watchmen to physically host the event for the first time, were installed over the summer, creating a showcase space for the school. Two days earlier, school officials announced a $500,000 capital campaign to pay for those and future renovations to the CSLA's new campus on North College Street.

But the school hasn’t reached all of its short-term goals for the transition, and therefore can’t move forward to make its overarching vision a reality.

That’s why the school publicly announced its “Our Children, Our Future” capital campaign for the first at an open meeting on Oct. 24. The goal is to raise $500,000 by June 2015, of which $258,000 has already been raised through a pair of lead gifts and a quiet fundraising phase on the part of the school’s board of directors.

“What’s really important is to bring some more community into the support for C.S. Lewis, to get the community to understand that we’re another option for education in the area, that we’re a real strong Christian academic education,” said director of athletics and development Steve Wallo, who is co-directing the campaign along with volunteer Becky Beasley. “We’re putting those graduates back into the community as young men and women with strong character and integrity that are good for the community, so it’s a good thing to support.”

Wallo said that nearly $300,000 was spent to renovate the classroom buildings and the gym and move the school out of its former location on South College over the summer, but that additional funds are needed to, among other things, stabilize the financial aid program, purchase technology, purchase a new school bus and boost staff and faculty salaries.

The campaign will be mostly donor-driven, but will also include normal annual fundraising events, like the recent golf tournament, as well as new ones.

The first of the two anonymous lead gifts of $65,000 was made as a matching challenge, calling upon the community to raise the same amount, of which $35,000 has already been proffered. The second lead gift was larger, but Wallo did not specify the amount.

Wallo said the $65,000 roughly matches the amount spent to make the showcase renovations to the gym, including a new wooden floor and bleachers, new office space and an expansion to four classrooms to house the middle school.

He added the donors were on board with the estimation that in the scheme of the new campus, the gym would not only be vital for the sports programs, but serve as an important social, cultural, meeting and showcase pace or, in other words, the school’s “living room.”

That proved to be the case at the announcement meeting, which drew about 200 people, and at the recent Casco League district volleyball playoffs, which enjoyed a boisterous atmosphere as the Watchmen made history not only by making their first ever appearance at the tournament, but also won two games to advance to the state playoffs for the first time.

“They’ve never played on a court that had their name on it,” middle school principal and volleyball coach Vince Swagerty said. “Our teams wanted to have their picture taken out in the middle of that court. Our kids are proud to show people that court. They’re proud to have people come into that gym and be able to host a league tournament like we did.”

Students and faculty have already marveled at both the ease of the transition and the quality of the new facility as it currently stands, even though many enjoyed some of the quirks of the old Friends Church, which was never designed to be a school.

“It doesn’t feel like there are two separate entities that kind of created one entity,” Swagerty said. “It just feels like school. I think that’s a good thing, that it doesn’t seem to have awkwardness. It feels like this is our home, this is our place.”

Wallo said that if the school can build enrollment to consistent levels across all grade levels — many, like the current freshmen class, are at or near capacity — its model will make it both efficient and economically sustainable. The hope is to do that by the end of the capital campaign, or shortly after, the school will be as financially strong as its ever been and therefore a great position to plan future phases of development.

“Some of it is almost hopeful in a build-it-and-they-will-come way,” Wallo said. “If we can build this infrastructure that attracts people, then we can accomplish our mission to a greater degree while still keeping small class sizes and remain who we are.”

For more information or to donate, visit www.cslewisacademy.com.




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