Shalom launches $12M campaign

Andrea Rose

Shalom Christian Academy is growing.

Last week, school officials announced the start of a $12 million Cultivating Wholeness capital campaign to fund a multi-phase expansion project on the school's 34-acre campus near Marion.

"Logistically, we are running out of available space," explained Angie Petersheim, school administrator.

Petersheim said the school currently serves 464 students in pre-K through grade 12.

"With increased enrollment, it is becoming more difficult to schedule all the necessary gym classes," she said. "Fine arts is growing and needs designated space. Academic programs are being expanded."

Phase 1 of the construction plan will begin in May and will include the total renovation of the elementary and middle school.

"We are committed to begin May 9 and we will be done and gone by Aug. 14," said Gregg Thompson of Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. of Chambersburg. "You will have a totally different school by then."

During construction, affected students will be relocated to Antrim Brethren in Christ Church.

Phase 2 will include a new and secure entrance, large gathering area and new office area.

Phase 3 calls for renovation of the high school classrooms and main office area, as well as a new main entrance.

Phase 4 includes expansion of the gymnasium and stage area, as well as fine arts classrooms, community/lunch room and an elevator.

The goal is to complete all projects by the 2020-21 school year, depending on funding. The three-year campaign will conclude in the spring of 2021.

"So far, we have $8 million pledged," said Mike Shaker, assistant administrator.

Shaker said 100 percent of the faculty and board have offered gifts.

"It's a good time to begin a campaign because of the foundation that previous leaders have laid for our school," Petersheim said. "This foundation created a solid academic program and a sound financial base to help our kids make a difference."

School officials were quick to point out the expansion isn't just for the sake of expansion.

"Education is changing. We need interaction and collaboration and active engagement with students," Petersheim said. "We have a responsibility to continue the culture of purpose and excellence."

"We're not getting any bigger than effective class sizes allow here," Shaker added. "Our faculty-student ratio is 1:15 and that's not going to change."

Shaker said schooling students to be productive community members is key.

"The opportunity we want to present to our students is that they will be prepared to live lives of consequence in the world for the kingdom of God," he said. "The impact this expansion will have on our current and future students will be significant."