By David Lindeman
TROY – Troy Christian Schools opened its doors in 1980 with 37 students in grades K-5. Today, the schools have more than 900 students in programs from early childhood education to the 12th grade.
Those first classes were held at the First Baptist Church in Troy. Over the years, the schools have relocated and expanded to accommodate the growth in students and programs. The school system now is in the middle of an ambitious “Enlarge the Tent” plan to provide needed space for the present and future.
“We are experiencing the need for more throughout all our grades, and especially in our early childhood program, so we are responding to that need with our building extension program,” said Supt. Gary Wilbur. “We are in the second year of a three-year development project.”
The first phase of that project opened for students last fall. The new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) wing at the high school, located on Dorset Road, brings a new dimension to education. The STEAM wing includes facilities for robotics, 3-D printing and advanced engineering classes.
“We are excited to see the results of our newly added STEAM wing to the junior high and high school building,” Wilbur said. “Our students are getting strong training in STEAM programs, and just recently they programmed our robot how to dance! They had fun, it took a lot of skill, and they are learning robotics in a way that boosts their college and career readiness in the fields of engineering and robotics.”
The emphasis on technology also is a major focus for kindergarten through eighth grade. The second step in the school’s expansion project, a 16,000-square-foot addition to the elementary school, will include a STEAM classroom. The addition is under construction and is set to be open for the 2016-2017 school year.
“We are becoming very aggressive with our students, especially the 5th through 8th grades, in the STEAM areas,” Wilbur said. “We will have a dedicated STEAM room for this age group in the new elementary addition and we have hired a director to oversee the program for these students.”
The new $1.5 million addition will include a lot more than a new technology area. It will add a new full-sized gymnasium, five new classrooms, a new kitchen and new locker rooms. The existing gymnasium also will be renovated.
The work won’t be over when the addition is completed. The next step in the process is the renovation of the building that originally housed the school when it moved from Troy Baptist in 1990. That building, a former church that fronts McKaig Road, will house offices and upgrades for Troy Christian’s Early Childhood Education Center. When completed, the entirely renovated building will house infant care, a large motor skills room and offices. Toddler classes will move to the current elementary building.
The last step for the project will be the construction of the new MAC (ministry, arts and career) building. This building will include a 1,200-seat auditorium and conference room and will provide space for school and community events. There is no date set yet for beginning construction on the MAC center.
The entire project, including the high school STEAM room, elementary school addition, child care renovation and MAC center will cost around $5.2 million.
“We are on target with our development project,” Wilbur said. “We are grateful to our families, area businesses and local foundations for making it all possible.”
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]