Downtown: Concord Christian Academy adds new court, room to grow

  • Concord Christian Academy Headmaster Duffy Johnson opens the plastic to reveal the brand new basketball court that is one of the biggest courts in the city. The gym is set to open in a couple weeks. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A workman walks across the new floor for the gymnasium at Concord Christian Academy on Regional Drive. School officials said they hope to host the first home game on the court Jan. 22, part of a wider expansion plan for the Concord campus. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The new gymnasium is shown at Concord Christian Academy on Regional Drive in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/8/2018 12:11:57 AM

You have to be careful when navigating the lobby of Concord Christian Academy.

That’s because the lobby is the only space the 44-year-old school has to play dodge ball during its winter months. At least, not without shipping its kids to Keach Park’s indoor gym, or one of the other community gyms in Concord.

But in a few weeks, the lobby will be empty of children squealing and foam balls flying through the air. Phase 1 of a $3.5 million, three-phase expansion project is coming to an end, which includes a few new classrooms, a connecting passage between the current 27,000-square-foot building and the new 35,000-square-foot addition – oh, and a new 90-by-120-foot gym.

It’s a project over 20 years in the making, according to Dean of Academics Alice Pinard, who’s been with the school for 30 years.

“It’s something we’ve dreamed about for so long,” she said. “There’s something to be said about waiting so long for something. ... I almost get goosebumps walking in there. There’s something very personal going on here.”

The pre-K-12 school was originally located downtown, across from the YMCA by First Baptist Church (now CenterPoint Church). The gym then was rough – maybe half a court, said school board member and alumni Ben Brayshaw. Back then, when school officials dreamed of expansion, they thought about moving upward, maybe adding a playground on the roof.

Small efforts were made to save for an expansion, Pinard said, with collections taken up at various churches. But it wasn’t until the school gained independence and moved into the former Centennial Senior Center building on Regional Drive in 2007 that the possibility of expansion started to solidify.

And after about five years of fundraising, including some big pushes from donors, Brayshaw said the school’s vision is much broader in scope than previously imagined. In addition to the gym, several new classrooms, as well as an auditorium with room for more than 500 people, are set to be added by next year.

Enrollment is driving the expansion, Headmaster Duffy Johnson said. When the school first went independent 12 years ago, enrollment was about 110 students; last year, the school had about 225 students. Next academic year, with interest around the gym building, the school expects to have more than 300 students this fall.

Pinard said the school’s focus on character development and faith-based learning continues to be a draw for parents in the immediate Concord area, as well as some outliers from other parts of the state. The school also offers a dual-credit program, which can allow students to graduate with up to a year’s worth of college credits under their belt.

The school charges $11,000 for annual high school tuition, but Brayshaw said the average student pays about $6,800 after tuition aid.

School officials said they hope to host the first home game in the gym Jan. 22.

O Christmas tree

If your blue spruce has finally outstayed its welcome, Concord residents with curbside trash and recycling collection can begin placing their Christmas trees on the curb for disposal starting Monday and running through Jan. 19.

All lights, ornaments and tinsel must be removed from the tree. No fakes or wreaths allowed. Trees must be on the curb by 7 a.m. on collection day.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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