Lakeland Academy 1-18By AMY GAREIS, News-Herald Staff Writer

 FREEPORT – Lakeland Academy Community School is beginning a new year with a refurbished space and more students yearning to learn.

The school has completed renovations at its site along 101 Main St.  Superintendent Chuck Bizzari said the building will be showcased during an open house on Feb. 14 from 1-4 p.m. Area officials and others will be invited to view the newly remodeled facility, which houses four classrooms for combined grades K-1, 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12 and even a computer lab. A light lunch will also be featured that day.

“[The work] finished during Christmas break. We had floors and carpeting done after the holiday break. A lot of usable rooms were done between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we’ve pretty much gotten a clean bill of health from the state,” Bizzari said. “We moved in mid-October of 2012 and changed contractors during the summer of 2013. We put a new roof on during the summer and will probably paint this summer.”

The 80-foot-by-70-foot facility was also retrofitted with new restrooms, a small cafeteria, conference room, staff kitchen, office and a maintenance room. Additionally, some lockers were donated from the former Indian Creek Middle School in Mingo Junction and Lakeland acquired 24 desktop computers in the centralized lab, as well as 12 laptops, and Bizzari mentioned that each teacher received a laptop to work at home.

“Our goal is to have a computer for every student and we are about 20 computers shy, but in the lab each class can work with them and we can rotate them out.”

Lakeland Academy opened with 28 pupils in the fall of 2012 and presently has 62 attendants, which Bizzari attributed to a mixture of open enrollment from surrounding schools and the influx of oil and gas workers’ families.

Businesses such as TJ’s Gas-N-Go and The Raider have provided drinks and food to the site while the recently formed Lakeland Academy Community Organization provides one hot lunch per month since no actual kitchen is on-site. Students primarily brown bag their lunches or have the opportunity to go home, while high school pupils can walk the short distance to the Raider for a meal. The organization has also held fundraisers and other events to promote Lakeland Academy and some charities.

“I think with every year of the school’s presence it will become more accepted,” Bizzari concluded. “Right now, it seems to fill a niche for the younger kids.”

For more information about the school, call 740-658-1042.

Details of Lakeland Academy Community School’s renovations can be found in this weeks print edition of the Harrison News-Herald.