On Thursday, Nov. 16, Lake Oconee Academy students, teachers, administration, families, board members, and the community took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new high school campus. The high school expansion project will include two new buildings, seventeen classrooms and two science labs. The campus will also house a student life center with a cafeteria and a gymnasium. Photo on Right: Representatives from JMWilliams Contractors, the LOA Board of Governors and the LOA Foundation participated in the groundbreaking at the site of the new high school campus (left to right): Daniel Hauser, Brad Campbell, Michael York, Jennifer Vaughan, Riezl Baker, Connie Hoyle, David Mapp, Dick Schmidt, Mark Lipscomb, Dr. Otho Tucker, Rick Wolfert, Tommy Jeffords and Allison Evans.
The school secured financing for the $18 million expansion through the United Sates Department of Agriculture Community (USDA) Facilities Direct Loan Program. The USDA program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.
“It will be extremely beneficial to our academic program to have a dedicated high school facility for students in grades nine through twelve,” said Dr. Otho Tucker, CEO of Lake Oconee Academy. “In 2007, LOA started with 11 kindergarten students and now we have the opportunity to provide the highest quality education to over 900 students. We have been successful in accomplishing the mission that was put forth for LOA – to increase student achievement by building a culture of high expectations for all students. I am truly grateful for the support of the Greene County community and our school family over the past 11 years.”
The LOA Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to enrich the educational experience of every LOA student, announced that it has raised an additional $2.3 million for the expansion project through the “Fulfilling Our Commitment” capital campaign. The campaign was created to provide philanthropic support for the high school project and will fund items such as advanced technologies, furnishings, safety measures, equipment, and green space for the high school campus.
“This is certainly a historical day for LOA and Greene County,” said capital campaign co-chairman Rick Wolfert during the groundbreaking ceremony. “Today we have the opportunity to celebrate LOA’s remarkable success and growth over the last ten years, but also understanding that this $18 million campus expansion shapes the future of our school. I would like to personally thank the over 200 donors, business partners and parents that made this campaign a success, and acknowledge our teachers and LOA board members who all contributed to the campaign at a 100% level. That is outstanding.”
Once the project is completed, the LOA Foundation will enter into a long-term lease agreement with Lake Oconee Academy, Inc. This contractual relationship meets the specifications addressed in the charter renewal for self-funding future facilities expansions without drawing additional facilities funds from the school district.
The groundbreaking ceremony was followed by Lake Oconee Academy’s annual Titan Bash, a school-wide event.