Renting days are numbered for Ave Maria Academy

| August 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
Jason Slattery, president of Ave Maria Academy, stands on the site in Maple Grove where the new school building will be constructed. The groundbreaking took place Aug. 15. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Jason Slattery, president of Ave Maria Academy, stands on the site in Maple Grove where the new school building will be constructed. The groundbreaking took place Aug. 15. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Under the watchful eye of the Blessed Virgin, Ave Maria Academy in Maple Grove is growing.

With a 6-foot statue of Mary positioned on property earmarked for a new school building, President Jason Slattery watched joyfully as Archbishop John Nienstedt led prayers during a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 15.

The 20 acres of land sit along Bass Lake Road less than a mile from the current location. The school, formerly called Cedarcrest Academy, has rented space from a local Protestant church, with the lease set to run out on July 1, 2014.

Thus, construction of the 40,000-square-foot building will be completed no later than the last week of June. The goal is for the current enrollment of 175 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade to swell to 300 students. A projected Phase II of the project will create space for up to 500 students within the next several years.

Based on the demographics of the area, Slattery believes that maximum capacity will be reached.

“Maple Grove and northern Plymouth are expanding rapidly,” said Slattery, who has been at the school 10 years, eight as principal (the school has existed for 17 years). “The birthrate here is still very high. There are houses being built, particularly on the school’s western border, at the highest rates in the metro area.”

One need not look far to see the growth. New houses are sprouting up in a development right across the street from the property where the new school will be built. Slattery himself lives on the far end of that development, and noted some of the houses sit on land the school had to sell off from its original parcel of 67 acres due to falling land prices. He’s hoping some of the children growing up in houses on that land will end up attending Ave Maria.

The school received its formal designation as a Catholic school in the archdiocese in May 2011.

One of the most encouraging signs of future growth is the number of children enrolled in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. There are three sections of pre-K and two sections of kindergarten (24 students per section) signed up for this year, plus a waiting list. That should keep plenty of kids in the older grades in future years.

“For me, there’s been an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” Slattery said. “The school has a very strong devotion to Our Lady, and she has seen us through some very difficult and challenging times over the years. And, I really can’t feel anything other than gratitude for where we are today.

“As I looked out during the groundbreaking and looked upon the faces of families who I’ve seen here for 10 years, many who have sacrificed greatly to see this school sustained and grow, you could see in their eyes tears, and you could see great emotion because they had persevered so hard.”

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Category: Back to School