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Grace Academy moving again

January 04, 2001

Grace Academy moving again



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

New schoolFor the fourth time in its 24-year history, Grace Academy has moved to accommodate increasing enrollment.

The school building at 530 N. Locust St. served the Christian private school's needs for around 20 years, but as enrollment swelled to 285 it became clear a new building was needed, said Administrator Dennis Hoffman.

Students, teachers and administrators were busy packing up supplies and taking them to the new site on Cearfoss Pike this week. Teachers plan to set up their classrooms next week, Hoffman said.

"Everyone's so excited," he said.

The 35-acre site on Cearfoss Pike was ideal because it offered room for a building plus athletic fields, a playground and parking, said Hoffman.

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The land was purchased from Lester Aldin, but is known locally as Miller's Asparagus Farm, for a family that previously lived there and worked the land.

"We still can find some asparagus" on an undeveloped part of the property, Hoffman said.

The school paid $225,000 for the property and $2 million for the new construction, he said.

The new 47,000-square-foot building has 21 classrooms, a gym, a science room, computer lab and rooms for art, music and weight lifting, said Hoffman.

Hoffman said Grace Academy officials hope to rent out the gym to community groups to help repay the building's loan.

"We hope the facility will now serve the community and families of Washington County more effectively," said Hoffman.

The Christian school was established in 1976 by Mary Michael at the Downsville Ruritan Club Building with only seven students.

In its early years, the school's enrollment doubled annually, prompting a move to the Hagerstown Bible Church and then to the North Locust Street location, he said.

The Locust Street school, which was built in the early 1930s, was sold to Faith, Hope and Charity Inc., for a day-care center. Grace Academy's student body includes the full-day kindergarten students through the seniors approaching graduation in June 2001.

Students are from Washington County, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, he said.

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