Expansion Groundbreaking!

Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/20/2020 1:00:00 PM

Endeavor Charter School's Groundbreaking Ceremony for the K-8 Expansion Project took place on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 1:30pm.  In attendance were Endeavor Charter School's Administration, Board of Directors, Foundation Board, PAWS President Alison Blatz, Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones, former ECS Director and Co-Founder, Steve McAdams, members of the construction team from BCCG, as well as several staff members.  ECS Director, Christi Whiteside delivered the opening remarks and a brief history of the school.  Bill Kroll, Chair of the Endeavor Charter School Board of Directors gave an overview of the goals of the expansion, and Michael Reinhardt, Chair of the ECS Foundation Board described the details of the new space.

The recording of the Groundbreaking Ceremony is available on Endeavor’s YouTube Channel.

The 3-D animation video of Endeavor's Expansion project can also be viewed on Endeavor’s YouTube Channel.  The expansion will include a gymnasium, a 300-seat performing arts theater, a dedicated middle school space, an expanded elementary school space and will allow for expanded elective courses and year-long courses in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

Here are the remarks from Mrs. Whiteside, Mr. Kroll and Mr. Reinhardt at the Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Mrs. Whiteside’s Remarks:

“Welcome!  My name is Christi Whiteside, and I am the director of Endeavor Charter School.

In 2006, Steve McAdams, Maija McAdams, and I were hired to write the academic proposal for Voyager Academy, now a successful charter school in Durham.  The following year we tried again and were again successful in writing a charter school application – this time for Endeavor Charter School, a school for our community here in Wake County.  Endeavor was the 198th charter approved by the state of North Carolina at a time when there was a legal cap to be no more than 200 charter schools.  We believed then that we’d be one of the last new charter schools in North Carolina. 

We quickly faced a series of daunting hurdles starting with the news that while previous schools had been provided $200,000 of start-up funds, we would receive $0.  However, things began to turn in our favor.  We received a $12,000 donation, the total amount we would use to rent a facility, connect all utilities, secure computers for staff and students, and purchase all furniture and all supplies for opening day.  We were able to purchase 2 semi-trucks full of used furniture for only $300, less than the rental fee for the trucks.  And applications began to pour in. We interviewed teachers in churches, office buildings, and homes.  We held information sessions for curious families and educators.  We held our first student lottery, terrified that no one would accept a seat. And on the day our dirty, used furniture was delivered, in 100-degree heat, so many volunteers showed up and they put our school together.  On opening day, July 28, 2008 a red carpet and paparazzi marked the entrance for our wonderful students and staff who were all taking a chance on this new, untested charter school.

We learned and developed so much in those early years including an ECS teaching philosophy, rich fine arts courses, a competitive athletic program, and a community with a shared vision, all while bursting at the seams in the tiny rented building on Forum Drive with the copy room in the men’s restroom and the playground in the parking lot. 

Even then, we knew that site was temporary and that our permanent home would offer more to our students and staff.  Almost immediately, our Foundation started the search for this site, and after visiting more than 100 sites, they came here and saw 29 gorgeous, wooded acres and they found a new home for the school we built together.  We opened the doors here in 2014 to a larger staff, more students, more teams, dedicated classrooms for our fine arts teachers, and a real playground. Our 10-year anniversary brought a big party, a community effort to break a Guinness World Record, and a new vision for Endeavor.  Led by the question – What more do we want for our students and staff?  a new vision for Endeavor became clear. Thank you for being here today as we break ground for the next step in the story of Endeavor Charter School.

Mr. Kroll’s Remarks:

Good afternoon, my name is Bill Kroll and I am the Endeavor Board Chair.  The summer of 2019, which really seems like a lifetime ago, the ECS Board held its annual retreat and started it off like we do every Board meeting by reciting our Mission Statement: to engage K-8 students by integrating a challenging, hands-on academic program with multi-faceted fine arts courses in a familial environment.

As Christi said, we all asked what more can Endeavor offer its family while staying true to our mission?  After discussion with our stakeholders, we prioritized what we value about Endeavor:

  • High quality staff
  • Small class size
  • Fine Arts and electives options
  • Hands on learning opportunities
  • Performance space

From this we developed what more we wanted for our Endeavor family and what we would need to improve:

  • First was a recognition that middle school is a unique stage of life, not an extension of elementary school
  • Second was an ability to reach more families
  • Third was ability to expand educational offerings with more Fine Arts, electives options, and year-long science and social studies
  • Fourth was a facility to house performance space and physical education/athletics

While we are expanding, family remains central to each step we are taking.  Central to this expansion are maintaining:

  • Small class size
  • Community building activities
  • Parent involvement

By expanding, we are excited that:

  • A larger population will provide:
    • More social options at each grade level
    • The opportunity to serve more students and be a better reflection of our community
    • More classes allow us to provide teachers with expertise in every subject
  • A gym:
    • will be used for PE classes and electives
    • boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball teams will practice and play on campus
    • special events and assemblies will be held for the entire school
  • A theater:
    • will be the new home for drama classes and all future performances
    • students will graduate on our campus
  • Both of these will be a source of rental revenue for ECS and a resource for the broader community

Before I hand the mic over, I need to thank my fellow School and Foundation Board members and the ECS staff for never wavering in their commitment to this expansion.  If you can recall 2019, COVID was never a consideration and, in March/April and then again in July, there were critical moments when we needed to decide to pull the plug or march on.  Every single person saw this expansion as a beacon of hope and I hope that as you drive by Endeavor now that the expansion is more than just some architectural drawings, it provides you the same lift it has provided us.

Mr. Reinhardt’s Remarks:

Good Afternoon, I am Michael Reinhardt, and I Chair the Foundation Board. I would like to thank all the foundation board members, school board members, the school’s administration, the school’s staff and the ECS community for their contributions to getting us to this groundbreaking ceremony today. I would also like to thank BCCG and their trade partners not only to help get us to today but to take us to the ribbon cutting in June. It is my pleasure to talk about the scope of the expansion project and to point out some of the highlights.

The 56,466 square foot expansion will have a tilt-up concrete architectural wall panel exterior and think of it to consists of 3 main sections:

  • Section 1 is the new middle school space and is highlighted by 15 middle school student sized classrooms with a dedicated science room for each grade. This 2-story section will also feature the school’s new main entrance with an extended exterior canopy for the rainy-day carpool. Another special feature is the glass vestibule that looks out to the middle school outdoor space.
  • Section 2 is the new home of the Pride’s indoor sports teams. The full-size gymnasium will have all space needed to keep our students active regardless of the weather conditions. 6 basketball hoops, a retractable divider screen and telescoping bleachers provides functionality for hosting competition or conducting Physical Ed class. The dedicated locker rooms will also be a great benefit to this space.
  • Section 3 is the new performing arts theatre. There will not be bad seat in the house. There will be over 300 seats sloping down toward the stage. The elevated stage is approximately 2100 sq ft. Back stage there is lot of storage, changing rooms and a large roll up door for accessibility. Another incredible feature of the theatre is the raised Audio Video control room.

There are 2 common areas that I would also like to point out. The first is the Gym/Theatre lobby. This open and inviting space consists of 3 glass walls and will act as a formal welcome to our hosted events.  There is also a large common area connecting section 1 to section 2 and 3.  The potential of this space is endless. It will serve the students as an eating area, a space to meet in small groups for project work or as an artist exhibit space.

I am very excited to see this all come together in the months to come and again I want to thank the entire Pride community for the contributions toward this project.