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CorneliusNews.net: Former Davidson IB School Gets New Life


Lake Norman Christian Principal Sarah Beam works at her desk in the new building, with a note from a parent nearby. (Christina Ritchie Rogers/CorneliusNews.net) The halls of the former Davidson IB Middle School building on South Street were filled with students again Tuesday, as Lake Norman Christian School students returned from Christmas break to their school's new home. The Christian school is renting the space, at 251 South St., from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which this year moved its International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program to J.M. Alexander Middle School in Huntersville. Lake Norman Christian had been renting space from Lake Norman Baptist Church, at Sam Furr Road and West Catawba Avenue in Huntersville. The school's faculty, staff, parents and students were hard at work over Christmas break, scrubbing windows, painting walls, and cleaning floors and lockers to prepare for students' first day back. Some rooms got new carpet, classrooms got new paint, and the whole school building got new life. The South Street building is more than 60 years old, and was the Davidson Elementary School before housing the Davidson IB Middle School program in recent years. Earlier this year, school board members voted to close the school, saying the district could not afford the significant and expensive upgrades and maintenance needed at the school. Last August, the IB program relocated to J.M. Alexander Middle School in Huntersville, where it is now a school-within-a-school. CMS offered the Davidson building for rent, and in July the district chose Lake Norman Christian School as its tenant. "We knew we could move right in," Principal Sarah Beam said, since the building had already been functioning as a school and the expenses were comparable to what the school already was paying to rent space at Lake Norman Baptist. The school signed a five-year lease with CMS for about $3,300 a month, with the option to renew. At the end of the five-year term, the board will evaluate the school's situation and decide whether they would like to continue renting or explore other options. But that day is far from everyone's mind right now, as the faculty, staff and students are just excited to be in a new space they can call their own. Lake Norman Christian lower school students enjoy their first lunch in their new building. (Christina Ritchie Rogers / CorneliusNews.net) A SPACE TO CALL ITS OWN The auditorium will be used for chapel, Ms. Beam said, and the classrooms are "huge and abundant." And for the first time the school has a "genuine science lab" and a gym in which their sports teams can practice, she said - "we have a space that is truly our own." "Lake Norman Baptist was so gracious," Ms. Beam said, "but in any situation, it's always tough to share." Teachers had to take down their classrooms every Friday to prepare for the church's Sunday school classes, and would return Sunday nights or early Mondays to set them up again. And the church offers a morning preschool, so during the week LNC had limited access to the facilities before noon. The school has 110 students in kindergarten through ninth grade. While at Lake Norman Baptist, the school had a 10th-grade class, but the limited space inhibited any more growth. With more space in its new location, the school aims to grow, but in a controlled way, Ms. Beam said - adding just one grade at a time, as enrollment dictates. A PART OF THE COMMUNITY Throughout the transition, the support from community members has been remarkable, Ms. Beam said. The school was able to complete the upgrades it needed because of the help of so many community members, who donated materials, discounted services and have of their time. Sarah Beam And the school aims to be a "good neighbor" and give back to the community that has given so much to it, Ms. Beam said. The school's gym already is used by a men's basketball group each week, and the school is talking with churches and other organizations about possibly sharing the space. Ms. Beam is new to the school. She took over as principal in July. An experienced teacher, school administrator and local business woman, she said she applied for the position after much thought and prayer. "I knew that for this season of my life this was where I was supposed to be," she said. And she is thrilled with her new role and the new location. "It is just an amazing blessing being here. Period," she said. Lake Norman Christian School Phone: 704-987-9811 Address: 251 South St., Davidson Website: www.lakenormanchristian.com Daily Schedule: Before School Care: 7:00 - 8:00 am Morning Carline Drop-off: 7:45 am K-9th Grade School Hours: 8:00 am to 2:50 pm Afternoon Carline Pick-up: approximately 3:00 pm After School Care: 3:15 pm to 6:00 pm