MARCO ISLAND — Jane Watt stared through the windshield of her SUV and frowned at the rain. Wet weather meant a temporary work delay for finishing the Marco Island Academy campus by opening day, March 18.
Members of the school’s construction committee met with the contractor and subcontractors Feb. 15 to discuss incoming coaxial cables for phone and data services. Watt was there as chairwoman of the board. The new campus is located on San Marco Road next to the Key Marco gated community.
Looking at the campus, all 12 portable classrooms were in place. Two to the right will house administration: Principal George Andreozzi’s office, the nurse’s clinic, meeting rooms, a classroom for intensive reading, a board office and teacher’s lounge.
To the left, four classrooms will supply space for Spanish classes, physical education, social studies and math. But the core group of six portables directly beyond the entrance and straight back will act as a hub for some of the school’s most valued curricula.
The academy’s signature marine biology center will be housed along this corridor with classrooms for physics/chemistry, two classrooms for math, English/social studies and art.
All portables will be joined by a raised boardwalk still in construction. Land on the campus has space for an additional nine portable classrooms as the student population grows.
Currently, the academy has 105 students in high school grades. Another class level will be added and the student population is expected to grow to 160 next year. The 12 portable units can handle 200 students, Watt said.
Careful and controlled growth has been the watchword for success at the academy with emphasis on high quality programs. Moving into the school’s campus is one hurdle Watt is glad to finally overcome.
“We have raised the money for the campus thanks to a $250,000 anonymous donation and fundraising among parents,” said Watt. The project will cost about $1 million. An additional $280,000 is needed by June to cover operating expenses.
In the campus design, every classroom will be hardwired for academic testing with connections for 20 students per classroom. The shooting at Newtown, Conn., prompted inclusion of a teacher panic button in every portable unit.
Watt said the core curriculum for students is intense, so many extra-curricular activities are offered before and after school.
One new group, the Tech Club, will start a community outreach beginning Tuesday, Feb. 26, to help members of the community operate and get the most benefit from today’s personal equipment such as iPads and iPhones.
The academy’s drama group plans to sponsor a Shakespeare festival in May presenting as its first play, “Twelfth Night.” Performances are scheduled for May 11-12 and 17-18.
The academy will continue to offer its Advanced International Certificate of Education curriculum. These advanced placement courses are recognized by the State of Florida as a qualification for Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholars awards through the state’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
As part of its marine biology curriculum, an 11th-grade student will be selected to attend a three-week summer college program through Cornell University. The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort is helping to sponsor the scholarship.
In athletics, football was a highlight last fall and will continue with girls’ volleyball, cheerleading, girls’ and boys’ basketball and soccer. Two sports to be offered for spring are tennis and baseball. The academy will use the extra land on campus as a practice field.
The campus also will house a gopher tortoise sanctuary supported by help from the City of Marco Island and a financial gift from John and Corrie Grado. Prior to construction, the school relocated more than 10 tortoises as part of its environmental impact requirements.