As Mountain Phoenix Community School grows, its campus is growing too.
The Waldorf-inspired Jefferson County public charter school has 465 students from 10 counties in preschool through eighth grade.
Mountain Phoenix, 4725 Miller St., been in Wheat Ridge for two years and has grown significantly since its move from Coal Creek Canyon.
On April 12, the school hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new expansion — a building for sixth through eighth grades.
“All of the middle school will have its own building,” said Principal Donna Newberg-Long. “Our fifth graders are graduating into the building next year.”
The building will have six classrooms — four upstairs and two downstairs — and two band and orchestra rooms; a combined gym and auditorium has also been proposed for future construction.
“The band and orchestra right now are housed in the primary school, which has created a lot of noise, so we’re looking forward to it moving out,” Newberg-Long said.
The classrooms are phase one of the project and is being funded through a grant provided by Oppenheimer and Company.
“Because of our large growth and the fact we have pre-K support from the bottom up, Oppenheimer and Company was very interested in us and the Waldorf approach is something they felt was very special,” she said.
“Being in the classrooms and seeing what we do, they this is really special and there’s a light shining here.”
Mountain Phoenix received a $6.35 million bond; $3.25 million was used to purchase the 4.3 acres of campus property — the former home of Foothills Academy — and the rest is being used to build the expansion.
The first phase is expected to be done in late August and students moved into the new building by Sept. 1.
The first phase is expected to be completed by Himmelman Construction by late August with students moving in by Sept. 1. Classes for the 2013-14 school year begin Aug. 19.
“We have alternate classroom spaces for the fall just in case,” Newberg-Long said. “We do a lot of campouts and field trips, so some nice campouts and field trips at the beginning of the year will fit into the curriculum too.”
The second phase of the expansion - which includes finishing the upstairs classrooms and building the combine gym and auditorium - will be completed later after additional fundraising and grant applications are completed.
“It’s very important,” she said. “We need the space.”
Completing the classrooms are the first priority of phase two with the gym as the second priority.
“We mostly stay outside, even if it’s snowy,” Newberg-Long said. “Even our little preschoolers dress warmly and play in the snow. We get outside as much as possible. We feel nature is a big part of what we do to explore and look at science.”
Waldorf-inspired education in the public sector has become increasingly popular, Newberg-Long said. Three new public charters for Waldorf-inspired schools across the state have been created and will open to students in the fall.
“We have very dedicated teachers here and the education is tremendous,” she said. “Children are taught to draw and paint, we have performing arts and a strong music program, but we also care about academics. We have adopted the common core standards and are working to align them with the Waldorf Foundation.”
For more information about Mountain Phoenix, visit www.mountainphoenix.org.