A 90-foot bell tower topped with a lighted cross will add the final touch to the generous and anonymous donation of a chapel on the Cross Schools campus on Buckwalter Parkway.
The worship center will seat 500 people and is expected to be finished in time for 2019 Christmas services.
Father Chuck Owens made the announcement at a service Sept. 9 to celebrate and officially open a $10 million expansion at Church of the Cross’s Buckwalter Campus.
Kelly Williamson, director of marketing and development for the school, said there had been a desire on the part of the administration to have a chapel on the grounds.
“It is going to have a carillon of bells that will ring on a regular schedule,” said Williamson. “The lighted cross at the top will serve as a beacon for the whole surrounding area.”
The chapel is part of the school’s expansion which was officially opened Sept. 9 at the school. The $10 million effort includes something new and different for everyone and marks “a continued dedication to the future of education,” according a school press release.
The Matthews Makers Space Lab also was made possible through a donation from Mike Matthews and his family. Matthews’ son came home from school one day talking about the need for a lab, said Williamson, and the family talked about how they could make that happen.
“The goal of the lab is creative problem solving,” said lab teacher Josh Hicks in a video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the school’s Facebook page.
Williamson said the program seems to expand with every new idea, saying she heard one of the teachers talking to students about learning how to code, meaning a computer language that creates programs.
For the younger students, the Imagination Playground exposes them to engineering and architecture with a collection of oversized building blocks. Williamson said the students have had fun creating different kinds of structures, including a very imaginative unicorn.
Students up to fourth grade, including pre-school, experience the challenge of raising crops and gathering eggs in the Environment for Learning Center.
“The kids are gardening, getting a chance to work with chickens and collect eggs,” Williamson said. “They are finding out what’s involved with where their food comes from.”
The athletic program now has a regulation-size soccer field, the gym is doubled in size to include locker rooms, practice courts, two basketball courts, official bleachers and digital scoreboards, Williamson said, plus there is a gym set aside for use by the teachers.
The extra space in the new building will house the freshman class that will begin in 2020, creating the start of the Cross Schools’ high school classes.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.