This is one of the most significant days in the history of Alee Academy. On behalf of the students and staff of Alee Academy, I welcome you to this momentous and exciting occasion–an occasion that we view with pride and anticipation. This afternoon, a vision nurtured for many years and by many individuals will become reality with the breaking of ground for the new Alee Academy Charter School Eustis Campus. This state-of-the-art facility will be an invaluable resource not only for our students, faculty, and staff, but for the entire community.
The school will indeed be a state-of-the-art facility that will allow computer access throughout and will be equipped with the latest digital technology. The school will consist of 15,000 usable square-feet and 31.5 acres for environmental studies. That represents approximately one and one-half times more in-door space than the leased facility now serving approximately 210 students.
The new school facility will have eight self-contained classrooms, a commons area for lunch, administrative offices, teacher offices, and a computer network room. The new facility will be able to seat 135 students, each classroom will be wired with power and data ports, permitting any user to sit with a laptop or desktop and retrieve their online studies as well as information worldwide. There are plans for a confidence course to be constructed on the property which will afford the student body an innovative environment to experience an opportunity for growth in areas of teaming, leadership, and personal development.
The wetlands on the property are an ideal location for the students to continue their environmental studies. In turn the students will be afforded an opportunity to share the information and knowledge learned with their peers and even as science mentors to elementary students similar to the reading mentorship program at the elementary schools.
At this time, I want to acknowledge with sincere gratitude some very important individuals who are responsible for making this day a reality for us all. The Lake County School Board, especially Kyleen Fischer and Jimmy Conner deserve our special thanks. Ms. Fischer and Mr. Conner strongly supported the vision and mission of Alee Academy as we began in 1999. Members of the Alee Academy Charter Board who strongly supported this initiative also deserve our special thanks.
I want to acknowledge the hard and dedicated work of Mr. Steve Small and Mr. George Smith, of Capital Resource, for their contributions in making this dream a reality. You have spent endless days and hours in assuring that an acceptable loan package was presented to the USDA and Florida Bank of Gainesville.
I want to thank USDA for their vision and commitment to rural development. It is through the USDA Rural Development “Loan Commitment Program” that Alee Academy is able to construct this new school facility on the Eustis Campus. I especially want to acknowledge Robert Nadeau, Janet Drosz, and Chuck Clemons for their support in this building process.
I want to thank Mr. Tim Roberson of Florida Bank for his belief in the charter school movement. Florida Bank of Gainesville has funded many charter school construction projects in the past. It is this funding that has assured that many other students within Lake County will also have an opportunity to succeed.
I want to recognize the Florida Elks Association and the Florida Elks Harry-Anna Hospital. Had it not been for the these fine folks contribution in the beginning, Alee Academy would not have been able to open its doors in 1999. We are deeply indebted to the Florida Elks and we thank them again for their contribution to the life and history of Alee Academy.
I want to add to those acknowledgments by specifically acknowledging the architects and engineers whose genius will produce this magnificent facility– a 15,000 square foot facility that will provide an opportunity for more students to be successful in a non-traditional school setting. Please join me in acknowledging Swilley Curtis Mundy Hunnicutt Associates, our architects.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge the construction management team who will be on site every day for the next eight months assuring the successful on-time and on-budget completion of this project, MM Parrish Construction Company. These folks are really going to be responsible for making this project a reality. So would you join me in acknowledging them as well?
I want to thank members of my staff for your ideas, hard work and significant input, which has made this groundbreaking ceremony a truly memorable occasion.
Now on an occasion like this everyone warrants and certainly deserves acknowledgment and in the off-chance that someone has not been acknowledged, I want you to give yourselves a round of applause. You may now consider yourselves acknowledged.
To each of you — the Alee Academy family, the Eustis community, and visiting guests — I again say welcome. I sincerely appreciate your presence here this afternoon sharing with us on this momentous occasion.