MONROE – Eighteen years after its founding, all of the students at Union Academy Charter School are now on the same campus.
School parents, students, faculty and staff, alumni and members of the community that numbered in the hundreds celebrated the opening of a new building July 27 that will now allow the school to have all of its students at its campus on Martin Luther King Blvd.
Union Academy was the first charter school in Union County. It has students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.
The 100,000-square-foot project was completed in just 10 months at a cost of about $20 million. After the dedication ceremony, tours were given of the new facility and the school treated guests to lunch. The new building will house classrooms and other rooms for kindergarten through the fourth grade. There will also a new auxiliary gym that will be used by all grades at the school and it is scheduled to be finished by November.
“We are very proud of it,” headmaster Ann Walters said. “First time ever that all students are on the same campus. The dream has always been to do that, and we did it.”
Myers and Chapman of Charlotte provided the construction services for the project, and Walters said the company did an outstanding job completing the project before the start of school.
“Nobody thought they would do it, but they did it,” Walters said. “The weather was great for them.”
Walters also praised Monroe city officials for going the extra mile to ensure the project would be complete before the start of the school year.
“They helped us with making sure that when we needed things in a hurry, they stepped up,” Walters said. “They did it for the citizens of this community and it made a big difference.”
The campaign to raise the money needed to fund the construction is still ongoing but Walters said the fundraising campaign has been a success.
“We had a great down payment,” Walters said.
Besides the state-of-the-art classrooms and other facilities, a new entrance to the school and new roads to the lower school building were also built. School started on July 30 and the public charter school has almost 2,000 students.
Pat Kahle, president of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, praised the school’s efforts to expand its footprint by bringing all students to one location. She said the expansion is good for Union County.
“Wow, what an expansion,” Kahle said. “This is an exciting time for this great school.”
The new addition, and all of the classrooms at Union, also have new security updates as devices have been installed on all classroom and other doors on campus. Guardian Angel Barrier installed the security devices.
The devices use a reinforced steel winch and airline cable to secure a classroom in less than 10 seconds. The device attaches to the door itself and even if the doorknob is broken off, the classrooms will remain secure.
Lance Sargent, a retired high school teacher, came up with the idea for the device after participating in active shooter training in Missouri. According to the Guardian Angel Barrier website, Sargent decided to design a product which eliminated the potential for human error from securing interior school doors.