Melissa Kapecas, MS Principal, Jerry Algere, SVP, Century Bank, Chad Graves, COO, Barry Sloane, President & CEO, Century Bank, Walter Landberg, Executive Director, Hernyde Laurole, MS student, Asa Pedi, HS student, Adam Baacke, Facilities Chair, Linda Willis, Board of Trustees Chair, Greg Orpen, HS Principal, Nolan McKinnon, MS Athletic Director, Oliver Renau, HS Athletic Director Photo-Mary Gaynor
TYNGSBORO - With over 600 students, 100 Faculty & staff and parents of students from fifth to twelfth grade watching, Innovation Academy recently launched the beginning of a major Expansion Initiative. It was more than just a ceremony; it was a celebration of two years of master planning, seeking Department of Education approval to expand the student body, and ultimately planning a campaign to provide facilities to grow with the expanding student body.
The highlight of the ceremony was an announcement by Walter Landberg, Executive Director, of the first corporate sponsor of the school’s expansion, of which the track and field project is just one phase. Century Bank has donated $100,000 to support the school’s expansion from 600 to 800 students. The master plan includes enhancements to the science facilities, the track and field, additional classrooms and a gym. Further donations announced include $11,000 from the school’s parent association, Innovation Academy Community Association and combined family giving that exceeds $50,000 toward the expansion. The groundbreaking ceremony begins a countdown to September, when the new science facilities and the track and field will be available to the students. For the celebration, one high school student, Asa Pedi, and one middle school student, Hernyde Laurole, were randomly selected to participate in the ceremony.
Walter Landberg, Executive Director, surprised the student body with news that Century Bank is the first corporate sponsor on board to support the Expansion Initiative. Barry Sloane, President and CEO of Century Bank was on hand and committed $100,000 to the school and the building of the new track and soccer field. "We are so grateful to Century Bank and look forward to joining with them on our shared mission to prepare our students for the 21st century," said Landberg. Century Bank's name will be prominently displayed on the new scoreboard which will top the $1.9M facility. The $11,000 donation from the Innovation Academy Community Association, (IACA), the parent/community group, will go to provide the "IACA Shack" for concessions at events. Landberg also thanked the families, whose donations have amounted to over $50,000 in support of the school’s expansion plans.
With over 120 students on their track team that has never even had a field for practice, Nolan McKinnon, Athletic Director for the middle school, spoke warmly about the many obstacles that the athletic teams have overcome, and can now look forward to leaving behind, such as:
Bussing teams to “home game” fields where most fans could not come support the team
Practicing corner kicks from 20 feet away from the net
Balls flying into the street, or going under cars parked for dismissal
His comments were met with groans and laughs of appreciation by the students, whose experiences were well captured in his words. In spite of the obstacles, the athletic program at the Academy has grown nearly 70% in the past two years, and last year the high school track team placed ninth at Nationals.
Two years of successful fundraising and support from families at the Academy have paved the way for the Board's Development Committee to undertake more aggressive leadership giving. "We will be actively seeking grants and corporate partners going forward, but the culture of giving by our families has evolved as our student body grows, we see more and more families making individual leadership gifts, some upwards of $1,000.00 each,' said Susan Howard, Board of Trustees Development Committee Chair. "As we upgrade facilities and add long awaited technology and specialty classrooms at our middle and high schools, we begin to see our 16 year legacy growing into the institution we envisioned to prepare our students for the 21st Century", said Linda Willis, Board of Trustees Chair and parent of a student from the first graduating class in 2011.
In addition to our 'DIG'nitaries (see photo) on hand, special guests of honor included representatives from Century Bank, MassDevelopment, Gale & Associates, Pinck & Co, Quirk Construction, the IACS Board of Trustees, and the volunteer Facilities Committee.
Innovation Academy Charter School is tuition free, college preparatory Massachusetts, public charter school serving students in grades five through twelve. The school was founded in 1996 by a group of Chelmsford residents interested in having a choice in public middle school education in the Chelmsford area. Currently, the school serves students from more than 10 Massachusetts communities including Chelmsford, Lowell, Billerica, Dracut ,Dunstable, Groton, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and Westford.