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St. Mark school's expansion making the grade

TMCNet:  St. Mark school's expansion making the grade

[November 16, 2012]

St. Mark school's expansion making the grade

Nov 16, 2012 (Star-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Bob Brayman's roomy classroom at St. Mark Catholic School is full of big, flat tables. A collection of robots stand on the edges of some of them, and there's a cart stocked with laptop computers in the corner.

The classroom is new to Brayman, who teaches instructional technology at the school. Last year, he shared a smaller space with another teacher, which made toting around those robots a little tricky, he said.

Now, "it's easier for me to flow around the room," he said.

Brayman is benefiting from a recent expansion to the Catholic school on Eastwood Road. The $4 million project, which was completed in August, added six classrooms and a gym to the school, which educates students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The project was born about three years ago, said Steve Carlson, pastor of the school's adjoining church. The church, and the school, were growing, so Carlson surveyed the church members to learn what they wanted to build to accommodate that growth. Classrooms and a gym were the most popular requests, and construction on both began in June 2011.

The new space has been largely devoted to the middle school students, school officials said. Seventh- and eighth-graders are using the new classrooms, said Principal Mary Myers, and the gym has provided a home for the school's middle school sports teams, said assistant principal and athletic director Dennis Fleck.

Funding for the facility came from a loan the church's diocese in Raleigh, which oversees churches across Eastern North Carolina, said Caleb Strittmatter, church administrator.

That loan assumes that school enrollment will grow by 20 to 30 students a year over the next few years, Strittmatter said. The school is on track to meet that, Myers said -- the school saw an increase of 60 students this year. Right now, the school enrolls about 430 students.

And those students are noticing the new facility. Eighth-graders Camryn Kellogg and Alexandra Erling run Lions Live, the school's morning news program. Before, they were rolling their set from place to place, the pair said. Now, they have their own studio behind the gym stage.

"It makes a big difference," Alexandra said. "Set up is so much easier." Pressley Baird: 343-2328 On Twitter: @PressleyBaird ___ (c)2012 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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