DeLaSalle Education Center is undergoing a $6.2 million expansion and renovation.
The new building will be named the Norman O. Sanders wing in recognition of the school’s co-founder. As it is constructed, it will change an entire block along Troost Avenue and hopefully be a catalyst for adjacent redevelopment.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion was held June 2 on the grounds in front of the current school building.
“The word today is celebrate,” said Gary Ballard, outgoing president of the board of DeLaSalle Education Center. “This is extremely significant what we’ve been able to accomplish. We can now offer our students a modern school setting.”
Ballard hopes the expansion of DeLaSalle will trigger other redevelopment nearby.
“We’ll also be helping the urban core,” Ballard said. “We’re starting something right here in this neighborhood. DeLaSalle is not only doing it with education, we’re also doing it with revitalization.”
Jim Dougherty, director of sustainability at DeLaSalle, explained that the building gets its name from Norman O. Sanders, a former board chairman and co-founder of the education center. Sanders died Aug. 11, 2008.
“Norman was a pioneer with Godfrey Kobets in developing the DeLaSalle Education Center because the school had a great history in this community,” Dougherty said.
Gayle Lee, the principal of DeLaSalle, said a new building is exciting.
“We’ve waited a long time for this,” Lee said. “We want the folks here to know that we appreciate all the hard work, the time, the pledges and everything you’ve done to make this day possible. Mediocrity is just not our place.”
Keshawn Foster, a current student at DeLaSalle, also spoke.
“Adding a new building will improve the space for us,” Foster said. “The way our building will face will make the new building welcoming for others.”
Mark Williamson, executive director of DeLaSalle, said the school is merely keeping up with the times.
“Stagnation is unacceptable,” Williamson said. “In a short period of time, that future is going to begin rising up out of the ground.”
Williamson said the community’s dollars were vital.
“We would not be where we are right now without the community support,” Williamson said. “That’s obvious. People here put their money where their mouth is. This is a very giving town.”
For the last 40 years, DeLaSalle has provided alternative education for urban youths, sort of a safety net to keep them from slipping through the cracks.
Soon it will have a new building that will take it the next 40 years.