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Shana Duininck takes advantage of the photo opportunity as, from left, Anna Lindgren, Nora Duininck, Avery Duininck, Reece Duininck, Maikke Duininck, and Grace Lindgren try out their hardhats for the groundbreaking at the Community Christian School in Willmar on Monday. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

CCS breaks ground for expansion, new playground

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WILLMAR -- Grace Lindgren, a sixth-grader, is looking forward to playing basketball in a new gym when the Community Christian School expansion is finished. For her little sister, Anna Joy, it's about the playground.

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The private Christian school in Willmar broke ground Monday on a $1.8 million project that is the first phase of a larger expansion plan. The new playground and remodeling of the daycare and preschool areas should be done by the time school starts.

Locker rooms, a concession area and a new electronic sign will be finished this fall, and the shell of a broader expansion will be roughed in at the southwest corner of the existing school. Still to come in that shell will be music, choir and art rooms; five classrooms; and a full-size gym with bleachers.

"This is real exciting," said Deanna Lindgren, who attended the groundbreaking with her three children, all students at CCS. Anna Joy and several other children looked at a colorful plan for the playground and pointed out the pieces of equipment they wanted to try out.

Del Brouwer, the retired administrator of the school, addressed the more than 50 people who stood in the grass outside the building.

"Everybody here has invested something in CCS," he said, and that has led to the new expansion, the fifth time the school building has been expanded since it was founded in 1978.

Chris Reid, the president of the CCS School Board, said the expansion came about in the past two months. The school has 230 students in grades K-12 plus pre-school.

The school had some projects already in the works, he said. The playground and remodeling of the Eagle's Nest pre-school to add a day care center were on the drawing board for this summer.

But they didn't want to stop there. "We wanted a locker room," Reid said. As they looked at previous planning done by the school, they realized that a small locker room addition could be in the way of future expansion plans.

"We decided to take a leap of faith and build this structure," he said.

The school was able to raise about $1.4 million fairly quickly, Reid said.

Barb Abrams, a board member and spokeswoman, said the school is close to raising the full $1.8 million needed for the work.

"We have some amazing supporters," she said.

Finishing the rest of the expansion will cost about $2 million, she said, and it will be finished "as soon as we raise the money."

CCS has had a pre-school for some time, and will offer infant and toddler day care after the remodeling is done. A new all-day, everyday kindergarten program will begin in the fall, too.

The center will be licensed for eight infants and those slots are already filled. There is still room for toddlers.

"A lot of people have been real excited about it," she said as she walked through the future day care rooms at the east end of the school. "It will fill a need for some in the community."

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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