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New gym spurs Toledo Christian

School says its enrollment likely to grow

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The boys basketball team practices in the 19,000-square-foot expansion, which includes a lobby and locker rooms. It cost $2.7 million, with $1.3 million to be raised.

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The lobby still had that faint smell of something new.

Through the open door, the sounds of basketball shoes squeaked on the floor as the varsity boys' team practiced.

Toledo Christian School recently completed its $2.7 million, 19,000-square-foot expansion to build a new gym, lobby, and locker rooms in February, the largest capital project in the school's 37-year history.

The expansion, hampered by a two-month delay, was completed on budget, Superintendent Mike Chivalette said. He added that two men with ties to the school had donated about $500,000 of labor and supplies for the lobby's woodwork.

"We believe God was in this from Day One," Mr. Chivalette said.

The school's fund-raising campaign to pay for the project is still under way and short about $1.3 million.

Mr. Chivalette said his goal is to pay off the $2.7 million in debt and construction costs within five years.

On the lobby wall, framed photographs track progress, such as a front plow parked in the schoolyard and the construction crews at work.

The gym officially opened Feb. 7, an event not for those with high blood pressure or a weak heart. In dramatic fashion, the boys' team came from behind to beat Gibsonburg 45-44 in overtime. The girls' varsity basketball team also won that night.

For basketball coaches, the new 1,050-seat gym -- more than double the seats of the old site -- means no more 6 a.m. practices or borrowing a gym at a Christian radio station in Holland because there is no space.

Instead, the coaches can utilize the much larger new gym as well as the old gym, which remains.

"The biggest thing is we have space to run our program the way we want to run it," said head varsity boys' basketball coach Dave McWhinnie. "Everything is gorgeous. [The kids] love it."

The gym will be used for the commencement ceremony this year and for school performances, assemblies, and other events, the superintendent said.

Already, the school, which has 625 students from preschool through 12th grade, is seeing the benefits from the expansion. Since December, the school has begun the admissions process with 85 students, the largest boom at one time in the past several years, Mr. Chivalette said.

"The phones are off the hook," he said.

The school did not raise tuition to pay for the expansion, the superintendent said, adding the rates will decrease next school year. Officials hope that will boost enrollment.

Next year's tuition will be $6,800 for one student and $4,800 for two students in one family, compared to $7,300 per child this year.

The school also plans a preschool and prekindergarten satellite campus at Boulevard Church of Christ in Sylvania next year to serve as a feeder school for Toledo Christian.

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