The Allen Christian School in Jamaica is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, starting with an expansion that will enable the school to serve 200 more students.
The school, at the corner of Merrick and Linden boulevards, offers a Christian-based education for about 500 students in first through eighth grades as part of the Greater Allen Cathedral community programs, said Linda Morant, the school director.
The school plans to expand further south on Merrick Boulevard, building toward 115th Avenue, Morant said. The addition will house about 10 classrooms, two music rooms, a band room, an art room, a library and a science lab, she said.
A groundbreaking for the project was slated for Wednesday morning, and the construction work should be completed by the time students return in September, Morant said.
The need for the expansion arose as demand for the school grew, said Morant, who started as the director of the pre-school program when the institution opened in 1982.
"Because of the number of students we are educating, we need to expand," she said. "We are using every available space we have. We're using the library as a homeroom and a classroom for the third grade."
Classes are held in the hallways, art is created in the cafeteria and music in a room the size of a large closet. The Spanish and Christian education teachers are left to scramble to find empty space at the start of each class, Morant said.
"Wherever there is a free classroom, they use it," she said.
The school also offers summer enrichment programs, which will be held at the Greater Allen Cathedral, at Merrick Boulevard and 110th Avenue, while construction is in progress, Morant said.
"A lot of work has to be done this summer to be ready for September," she said.
The school was founded by the Rev. Floyd Flake and the Rev. Elaine Flake, pastors of the Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, as an alternative to public schools, said Edwin Reed, the church's chief financial officer.
"What they found was the students didn't have a good basic preparation to effectively take part in a college education," he said of the Flakes. "We think that if we can give children what they need at an early age, it will carry them through high school and college."
Allen Christian School offers students a basic education in reading, writing, math and history, supplemented by art, music, computers, Spanish, Christian education and Christian ethics, Morant said.
"We strive to help students use and increase their God-given talents so that they may live in abundance, thereby increasing their probability of overcoming uncertainty and failure in the future," the Rev. Elaine Flake said in a statement.
Allen students have gone on to area and specialty high schools, including Townsend Harris, Stuyvesant, St. Francis Preparatory, Jamaica High School and more, Reed said. Many continue on to college, he said.
In addition to the expansion, the school is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with rededication events, such as an opening assembly Tuesday, a community parade Wednesday, an open house next Thursday, and a talent and fashion show next Friday.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community News Group
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