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Changes at ‘new Charlotte Prep’ come into sight

The new athletic field at Charlotte Preparatory is more than a new space that will benefit the school’s physical education and athletic departments – it’s a new gateway into the school, and a sign of a “new Charlotte Prep” with many more changes and upgrades to come.

(Above) Blair Fisher, Charlotte Preparatory head of school, poses with Connolly Clayton, a transitional kindergartener at the school.

(Above) Blair Fisher, Charlotte Preparatory head of school, poses with Connolly Clayton, a transitional kindergartener at the school.

The school, which originally opened its doors in 1971, changed ownership about two years ago after a group of “very engaged parents” entered negotiations with the previous school owner to purchase Charlotte Prep. The new owners immediately made the transition from a for-profit school to a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) school, opening the door to more fundraising opportunities and stronger enrollment numbers. Charlotte Preparatory’s enrollment has grown 25 percent in the past two years, said Blair Fisher, head of school, and leaders anticipate more growth next

“There was the old Charlotte Prep and now we have the new Charlotte Prep,” Fisher said. “We are really seeking to build on that foundation that was already laid.”

That foundation, which included strong academics and programs for students in transitional kindergarten to eighth grade, always produced successful students, Fisher said. But financial restrictions made it difficult for the school to keep up with changing technology and curriculum, as well as finding funds for expansion projects like the activity field.

But all that’s changed now. The new activity field is a product of the school’s first capital campaign and was officially  dedicated at the end of March. The field primarily serves as space for the school’s physical education classes, soccer teams and any other outside activities. The school previously had an agreement with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation to use James Boyce Park, which sits behind the school, for its outside needs.

“Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation were great and gave us everything we needed, but to not have your own field – that makes it really tough,” Josh Lutkus, the school’s athletic director, said. Walking to James Boyce Park from the school is about 20 minutes round-trip, Lutkas said. “To have our own field really enhances the athletic program, the physical education program and really the school as a whole.”

And now the field, which also is outfitted with signage representing the school, is a great marketing tool, too. Charlotte Preparatory abuts well-known Charlotte Christian School on Sardis Road.

“Now there is an entrance (to Charlotte Preparatory) right on Sardis Road,” Lutkas added. “People drive by, see the signs for the field. It’s just a great visual for our school.”

But the new activity field is just a small sign of what school leaders hope to come in terms of improvements and enhancements to make the student experience at Charlotte Preparatory even greater, Fisher said. The school recently wrapped up its second capital campaign, which will help fund more STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math) learning. The school is a STEM school, Fisher said, and strives to be the STEM school of choice for area residents with TK through eighth-grade students. Through the recent campaign, Fisher said construction crews will renovate two middle school science labs and a fourth-grade science room this summer, enhance the school’s STEM lab, replace machines and software for the school’s computer lab and create outdoor science areas for the Montessori early school. With the renovations also comes new technology and curriculum, Fisher added, like new microscopes and programs based on robotics, web designing and more.

“The activity field really stands as a new symbol for the new Charlotte Prep. It shows parents when they invest in the school, we will move the school forward in tangible ways,” Fisher said. “It’s a really exciting time to be at Prep.”

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