Immanuel Christian School is preparing for a major move and expansion from its present quarters in Spring Park Church in Charlottetown, to the former Kent Building Supplies location on Allen Street. At the new location holding the key are, from left, Principal Matthew Mann, grade four student Nicolas Dickieson, and grade one student Graham Armstrong.
©Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian
The former Kent Building Supplies location on Allen Street in Charlottetown is the new home of Immanuel Christian School.
The school is hosting an opening ceremony today for friends, family and students.
“Immanuel Christian School is a unique community of families who have bonded together to bring up their children in a safe community with excellent teaching in a culture that fosters children’s faith,” said Matthew Mann, the school’s principal.
Immanuel was founded in 1986 with 12 students located in the Salvation Army building in Charlottetown at that time. The school moved to Spring Park Church on Kirkwood Drive in 1991. It offers classes from pre-kindergarten to grade nine.
“It is interdenominational, with over 20 churches represented (in the student and staff population),” said Mann.
There is one other Christian private school in Charlottetown which offers classes through to grade 12.
Immanuel’s enrolment has been rising from 49 students seven years ago to 103 students enrolled this year, said Mann.
Families pay close to $5,000 per year per student, with discounts for additional family members.
“We are turning families away every year,” he said. “At the same time, parents were increasingly asking for high-school years to be added and we simply have no space for it.
“We, for five years now, have been searching and have explored over 10 properties, some quite seriously,” said Mann.
Then came the former Kent hardware building, with many initial concerns, including its industrial nature, and the propane distribution yard right across the street.
Many meetings and prayers later, a package has come together in a bold and dramatic way, he said.
“Six school families bought this building to find a home for their kid’s school,” said Mann. “To make that work, they will be leasing about 60 percent of the building to other organizations.
“These six families have signed a covenant to make no money out of this,” said Mann. “They are taking on considerable risk personally, with real outlay of funds and are committing to never making any profit out of that investment.”
Some 40 percent of the building is being considered by a Christian-based retail business with details not yet ready for announcement.
The building serves as a shell that can be configured in any way, said Mann.
“It gives us huge latitude on where we draw lines and create spaces,” he said.
The back 40 percent of the building will be completely renovated to house the school, including a high-school-size gymnasium with future plans for a chapel and music space.
The design will include up to 200 students with potential for expansion.
The location at the back allows the students to be safely protected from any problems at the propane yard and meets national safety guidelines for such issues, said Mann.
Close by is two city-owned soccer fields, and the Confederation Trail is right next door.
A fundraising campaign will begin soon and depending on its success will see the project unfold in phases. Students are expected to begin classes at the new location next September. A possible expansion to include high school grades is not part of the first phase, said Mann.
“Construction will begin, God willing, in April or May,” he said.
“Many children are in circumstances where they need a fresh start,” said Mann. “They need a new place, new friends, a new context and this school has time and again served that role, ministering to them in their need.
“We have plenty of stories of real kid’s lives, in various kinds of need, being richly blessed by their time in our school,” he said. “Sometimes their stay with us is short, sometimes it’s long but in virtually every case I can think of, their experience has been encouraging, healthy, and they have move on from us stronger and very well equipped for the challenges that come in subsequent years."
Anyone interested in helping the project or learning more about the school can visit the school’s website at www.immanuelchristianschool.ca or call 628-6465.