Looking back 50 years is not enough for Brookfield Christian School.
The school's golden anniversary this year includes a nod to the future as it embarks on an expansion in October. Officials said the project's centerpiece is adding a gymnasium and classroom space that will also emphasize the arts, language and technology.
"We're a little bit fluid right now as to the exact plans," said Jill Baker, a parent with 10 years' experience in a variety of work roles at the school. She currently heads marketing enrollment and is involved in a successful capital campaign that fueled the construction start. "We'll begin construction Oct. 7, and we will announce a groundbreaking ceremony soon."
The campaign to raise money for the two-story project's $2.5 million price tag is almost 90 percent complete, Baker said. With multiple generations of graduates, the school has been able to draw upon the generosity of alumni, parents and grandparents.
"This is the third time in our history that we have expanded," Baker said. "We have been talking about it, and it became clear that this was the right time to do it."
Meeting growth needs
The right time came because of an enrollment increase in the lower grades of the school that serves students in junior kindergarten through eighth grade. By adding a new gym, Baker said, the current gym can be turned into enhanced space for music instruction, a cafeteria and needed classrooms.
"The addition will be built just to the west of the current building," she said. "A connector then will be built between the two. There should be very little disruption during this school year."
That lack of disruption is welcomed by Kevin Vos, a new principal who is following a 15-year stint by Bob Wiers and an additional year by an interim academic leader. Vos said the school is poised to not only add enrollment, but also grow language and arts instructions.
To remain competitive, Brookfield Christian also is looking to improve its ability to provide the proper level of technology. Baker and Vos emphasized the need to plan for that change.
"We have a library media lab and some classroom abilities with equipment such as Smart Boards," Baker said. "We really need to look at a better overall technology plan and make decisions based on lab needs and the needs of individual students."
Vos said technology gives the school a competitive position.
"Education is the reason we are here," Vos said. "Families want us to provide a Christian worldview, but they also expect us to provide the same academic tools that they find in any other school. We don't have our own high school. We're not here to put a bubble around the students. We want them to be prepared to go to high school anywhere. We want to give them a strong foundation and be prepared for any environment they are going to encounter."
Brookfield Christian officials said about half of graduates continue their education at an Elmbrook School District high school.
For Vos, taking the helm at Brookfield Christian represents a coming home of sorts. The Wisconsin Rapids native spent 17 years as a teacher and administrator, including principal at Calvin Christian, a school in Escondido, Calif., near San Diego. Ironically, it was the same school that Wiers worked at for 20 years before his Brookfield Christian career.
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