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Renaissance Academy: ‘Not your grandfather’s vo-tech’

Work has begun in earnest prepping the site that could be home to the Renaissance Academy, a planned $72 million facility dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math pursuits for Monongalia County students.

That includes everything from the just-completed first stage of an environmental assessment to core drilling samples, which are ongoing — John Chadwick of the DLR firm told Board of Education members Tuesday.

His employer was awarded the contract for the standalone STEM school in June.

Chadwick, an architect and former school administrator who works out of DLR’s Washington, D.C., offices, briefed the board on the project during its regular meeting that evening.

He said he was impressed by the board and school district’s vision that was already in place for the campus, which is set to occupy an expanse near Cassville that would serve as the academy’s home ground.

“This is not your grandfather’s vo-tech,” he said.

Once built, the academy and its campus would be in full view of motorists on nearby Interstate 79.

“You’re leading us,” he told the BOE.

Mon’s career technical education offerings already include subjects from agriculture to finance to public safety.

The academy, Chadwick said, would add to that — with aviation being considered an option, among other possibilities.

Plans are to have all the preliminary designs in this fall, he said.

The state School Building Authority, which doles out dollars for education infrastructure, will begin accepting project proposals Nov. 30.

After that, citizens get the last word — yea or nay — via a bond referendum next spring.

With its gleaming labs and work spaces, the Renaissance Academy would enable Mon’s high schoolers to pursue career technical education opportunities and to study STEM in depth, without taking away from their core classes.

DLR has already designed and constructed similar schools in Missouri, Colorado and Arizona.

Mon Schools wants the Renaissance Academy built and open to students by 2027.

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