WINTERSVILLE - Jefferson County Christian School has a new place in which to grow.
In addition to finding a new, more central location at 125 Fernwood Road, the former Wintersville Elementary School, school officials have enacted plans to take advantage of the larger building.
"We are already reaping the benefits of the the more central location," said Diane Hutchison, the interdenominational Christian school's administrator, who was among many school officials on hand to answer questions at an open house held there Saturday.
GRAND OPENING — Officials with Jefferson County Christian School began the open house for the school’s new location at 125 Fernwood Road, the former Wintersville Elementary School, with a ribbon cutting Saturday. Among those taking part were, from left: Keith Lucas, school board president; school board members Tom Bullard and Steve Gates, Assistant Administrator Lorrie Jarrett, Administrator Diane Hutchison, Wintersville City Councilwoman Phyllis Foreman and school board member Tim Hayden.
Hutchison said the school, which opened in 1978, has students from as far west as Jewett and as far east as Burgettstown as well as both ends of Jefferson County.
School Board President Keith Lucas said the school already has many students from Steubenville and Wintersville and it's expected at its new site to attract youth from the Edison and Harrison Hills school districts.
Julie Marshall, the school's director of development, said there are presently 169 enrolled in grades pre-school through 12 and she and others hope to reach 200 in the new school year.
There currently is a waiting list for pre-school and fifth grade at the school, which prefers to limit its pre-school classes to 14 children and the fifth-grade classes to 20 in order to provide more individual attention, she said.
The school is accepting new students through Aug. 24.
Hutchison joined staff and students in providing visitors tours of the new location, which she said is double the size of the school's former location in Mingo Junction.
But the move hasn't only involved an increase in classroom space, it's also included the addition of new technology and playground facilities.
A $50,000 grant from the Charles and Thelma Pugliese Foundation has helped the school to install wireless Internet connections to each classroom, establish a 20-station computer lab and provide each teacher with laptop computers.
School officials also are working to secure funds for laptop computers that each high school student may take home and laptops and ipads for pupils in the middle and elementary grades, respectively, to use while at the school.
Lucas, who has led the technology initiative at the school, said the high schoolers will be able to use the laptops to work at home but a security filter will be in place at all times to prevent and deter access to inappropriate web content.
Parents also will be able to access their children's assignments and grades through the school's computer network, he added.
Lucas said a new playground structure, with several slides and other play structures, will be installed in the weeks ahead through a $109,000 grant from the Christian Fellowship Foundation. He added there are plans to build a separate structure for pre-schoolers and another that mixes the appeal of a computer game reminiscent of the 1980s' Simon with physical activity.
Hutchison said many people played a part in the school's move. An anonymous donor has agreed to match donations for the school with up to $400,000 and the school has secured a loan through Premier Bank to move forward with the project.
And volunteer parents, students and staff moved all of the school's furniture, equipment and materials using a box truck and trailer volunteered for the effort under the direction of Sherri Ware, a teacher at the school for 25 years.
And still more changes are ahead.
Lucas said the JB Green Team and the Ohio state license bureau, which have been operating in the building, have been seeking new locations, with the JB Green Team expecting to move in 60 days.
He said until the license bureau relocates, volunteer parents have agreed to escort visitors to the bureau from the school's main entrance and back.