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21st century: CMCS launches next phase of expansion

With the work on Phase 1 completed, workers are now launching the Phase 2 expansion at the Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

PRINSBURG — A 21st century learning environment is a far cry from a one-room school house, but both can be said to have the same starting point: Lots of volunteer help and community support.

More than 100 volunteers joined last month to help the Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg by tearing out and recycling duct work, lockers, bleachers and light fixtures.

This week, workers with Duininck Inc. arrived with a crane and heavy equipment to tear away what remains and make way for Phase II of the school’s expansion project.

The estimated, $3.4 million project will add a new gymnasium with three full-size courts, locker rooms and support area. The 32,000-square-foot expansion will also hold a community fitness center, an industrial arts/woodshop, separate band and choir areas, and a special education classroom that will be leased to Prinsburg School District 815.

It is all taking place just over a century after the Christian school was started in a one-room structure.

Members of the school community voted in December to take on a larger Phase II expansion than was originally planned because of the benefits it offers, according to Superintendent Pete Van Der Puy and Tricia Nelson, chairwoman of the capital campaign.

Both called it amazing that the relatively small community of people who support this school could take on so ambitious a project.

The project was launched only after 80 percent of the funds for this portion of the expansion were provided or committed by supporters.

It follows roughly $9 million worth of work on the 46,000-square-foot Phase I portion of the expansion. It has made possible a new kitchen and cafeteria or “cafeterium” that also offers a full-sized auditorium area with balcony seating. Phase I also provided new central offices, 14 classrooms including a modern science lab, and media center.

Phase I is completed with funds raised or pledged to cover the full costs, according to the Van Der Puy and Nelson.

Marcus Construction of Prinsburg is serving as general contractor. It has been doing a great job of meeting the challenges that come with mixing construction and school schedule needs, according to Nelson and Van Der Puy.

“We’re making memories as a school family,’’ said Van Der Puy, laughing.

Workers will be making tracks to complete Phase II. The hope is to have the educational areas ready by the start of the new school year, with the gymnasium to open for the basketball season.

Nelson said the overall goal is to offer a 21st Century learning environment for students. It’s the school’s mission to provide the best possible Christian education, she explained.

The improvements have meant that the school can utilize all the latest in technology. The school has successfully met a goal of equipping students with individual laptops, for example.

School enrollment is currently at 325, and growing in the younger grades, said the superintendent. He said the building project has played an important role in the growth. People have come to tour the school because of it, and liked what they saw.

He and Nelson said the project has also helped in that members of the community have come together and invested in the school’s future, and that too has served to introduce more people to what the school can offer.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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