Supporters of the two-year old Concordia Lutheran School gathered inside the old Storm Lake Sports Center to celebrate the educational organization's recent acquisition of the structure on Sunday afternoon, as children and parents received the first glimpse inside the building that will become the school's new home next fall.
Highlighted by the ceremonial pounding of the "first nails" by the kindergarten through fourth grade students of the school, the hour-long celebration also featured several songs from the young students and information on the future of Concordia from its administration.
The event kicked off the "Treasure Our Children" campaign, a fundraising effort which hopes to raise a total of $650,000 to pay for the building, property and remodeling of the facility.
Norm Hogrefe, who emceed the ceremony, said he and the rest of the Concordia supporters were extremely excited about the new building, and are ready for the challenge of the first wave of construction, which will consist of classrooms, a kitchen, a lunch room and an administrative area.
Hogrefe said the school will then have room near the rear of the structure to build a gym, media center and stage with bleachers in the future, but it will concentrate all efforts on creating classroom space first.
"We're simply going to do this in phases," Hogrefe said. "We're going to be building the classrooms, library and lunchroom first, and then hopefully we will be able to build a gym in the back of the building and a stage and bleachers. We're going to start with classrooms because that is what is most needed at this point."
The school, which started in 2000 with 17 students in kindergarten through second grade, now has 33 students in kindergarten through fourth grade, and plans on adding fifth and sixth grade sections for the 2002-2003 school year and seventh and eighth grade sections for the 2003-2004 school year.
The rising number of students forced the school's Board of Directors to look for accommodations larger than its current facility adjacent to Faith, Hope & Charity on the west end of town, and leaders found what they were looking for in the old Sports Center warehouse, a 100-foot by 220-foot structure which became available after its current tenants went out of business last year.
Hogrefe said leaders felt it was simply time for Concordia to grow, and said the new facility would fit the needs of the school perfectly for many years to come.
"The old building was a great stepping stone to where we wanted to go, and I think this is the next step," Hogrefe said. "It's definitely an ambitious project, but we think it's going to be a great project and it's a very exciting time for us."
After buying the property and building for $200,000, Concordia will need $450,000 for the initial construction project, which will encompass well over half of the 22,00 square-foot facility.
The school, which is a separate not-for-profit corporation organized by individual members of area Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations, has one-third of its operating expenses covered by student tuition, and receives additional financial assistance from members of those congregations and other denominations around the area.
Costs and Statistics for Concordia Lutheran School
$200,000 for building/property
$50/ square foot for remodeling
$2,000 per window opening
100-foot by 220-foot building
292-foot by 296-foot property
Current number of students: 33 (K-4)