Unity Christian innovates on the bill | New
ORANGE CITY — If Wayne Dykstra had a DeLorean-style time machine, he would use it to go back to the early 1960s and tell the founders of Unity Christian High School how the Orange City school would thrive over the six next decades.
The most recent development the director would describe to them would be the 38,500 square foot expansion that will include a new gymnasium, a fitness area, and a science and agriculture wing. The project will also include a new transport building.
“When you put that shovel in the ground, you had no idea what was going to happen,” Dykstra said during a gathering of about 400 people at Unity Christian’s Knight Center on Thursday, September 2, before the inauguration ceremony of the expansion project.
Behind Dykstra on the auditorium projector was a photo of the school’s founders digging into the site that would eventually become Unity Christian.
The Unity Society – which is made up of alumni, parents, and school financial backers – approved the project in November 2019 with 321 of 329 votes in favor.
Since then, the school has raised $ 5.18 million in cash donations / pledges for the estimated $ 8 million effort. Dykstra said $ 5 million was the amount the school was looking to raise before starting.
Dykstra said that if he could time travel like Marty McFly from the movie “Back to the Future,” he would also brief the founders of Unity Christian on other expansion developments throughout the school’s history. These would include the construction of its existing gymnasium in 1974; a science wing updated in 1985; the addition of the main corridor and computer labs in 1994; and the opening of the Knight Center in 2013.
“If you could just go back and show them, ‘Look what happened: Fifty-eight years later 55 classes have graduated from Unity, 3,843 are graduating from Unity Christian High School serving the Lord around the world. Dykstra said.
Andy Landman, chair of the school building committee, also took the microphone during the assembly to provide an overview of the features included in the school expansion.
The new gymnasium will have enough space to house two full-sized high school basketball courts that will run east to west and one college-sized court that will run north to south. It will primarily be used as a space to give Unity Christian sports teams more space to train simultaneously instead of having to share a smaller gym.
The new gymnasium will occasionally host small tournaments and will therefore have bleachers that can accommodate 450 to 500 spectators.
Next to the training gym there will be two new changing rooms for boys and girls, which will include individual shower stalls.
The new fitness area will be located on the ground floor next to the training room, unlike the existing fitness center which is on the second floor. This will make it more accessible to people unable to climb stairs.
Another feature that will be in the new fitness room is an artificial turf area where students can perform drills and exercises.
Landman also spoke about the five-room science and agriculture wing, which will feature two classrooms with three lab spaces in between. One of the lab areas will also serve as a space for the school’s agriculture department to do their own lab work when needed. Otherwise, it will serve as an overflow space for science lessons.
“Initially, we had planned two laboratories. We were able to get a third lab and we think that’s a good thing, ”Landman said. “These are very large laboratories. They’re probably about 45 feet north and about 30 feet south the other way around.
Dave Goslinga, a graduate of Unity Christian, will be the general contractor for the project and his company, Bouma & Company Construction, will complete the work.
Dykstra noted that the overall cost of the work has fluctuated due to turbulent prices for building materials due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The costs of the project over the past six months were obviously out of our control. Our board and school members always thought it was time to go, even though the project is going to be a touching number, ”said Dykstra.
He hoped the new addition would be ready for half of the 2022-2023 academic year, but noted the possibility of delivery delays with the building’s equipment.
“We would like to cut a ribbon in early 2023,” Dykstra said.