North Lebanon’s New Covenant Christian School is growing. That’s great news—partly because of the ripple effects.
It means that the Lebanon County community is growing as well. And it means God’s word is spreading.
New Covenant Christian School, located at 452 Ebenezer Road in Lebanon, is literally bursting out of its walls, in the form of an expansion project which will transform the private school’s facilities and further its mission. Phase One of the three-stage project, which will include a new gymnasium and lobby, officially got underway today with a ground-breaking celebration.
The overall expansion is believed to be the most ambitious building project undertaken since New Covenant Christian School moved into the old Ebenezer Elementary in 1981.
“We’ve added about a hundred students over the last seven or eight years,” said New Covenant’s Principal and CEO James Hubbard. “Our customers—our parents—are looking for a school that can provide PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) sports. We are a Christ-centered school with a worldview, but we also have to be relevant. We’re growing in those terms. We’re about being part of the community. We want to make a positive impact. We’re hoping this new building will be a part of that.”
The new addition will allow the Flames to play home games in sports like basketball and volleyball on campus. Because New Covenant’s current gymnasium does not meet PIAA standards, the Flames have been playing home games 20 minutes away at Fort Indiantown Gap, for the past five years.
It was around the same time about five years ago that New Covenant successfully petitioned the PIAA to become a member school.
The new facility will also increase New Covenant’s practice capabilities and allow the Christian school to conduct graduation ceremonies on campus. The Flames are hoping to stage the first home games in the new digs in September, at the start of the 2019 volleyball season.
“We’ve been growing,” said Hubbard. “We were getting to the point where our building was too small. Our current gymnasium is a middle school gymnasium and it didn’t meet PIAA standards.”
The second phase of New Covenant’s project will feature the addition of a conference room, new class rooms, including a science lab and a concession stand for the new gym. It will allow the school to relocate its high school into a new space.
Phase Three of the project will include the building of a weight room and more class rooms.
The initial phase will cost $1.8 million to construct, of which Hubbard has already raised $1 million through pledges. Hubbard plans to raise future funds for the next two phases as they go along, but hopes that Phase Two will come to fruition in the next three to five years.
“That’s how we feel comfortable paying for it,” said Hubbard. “It’s a pretty solid strategy. If you over step it, you go backwards. But we want the building to be a part of the community.”
“(Fundraising) is pretty difficult,” added Hubbard. “It’s hard when parents are paying tuition to a school and you expect them to pay more. But people believe in what we do. Lebanon is not as economically strong as some areas, and we have a lot of good schools here.”
In many ways, the expansion project can be viewed as a necessary by-product of non-denominational New Covenant’s natural growth.
Since its founding 37 years ago, New Covenant’s enrollment has grown to its current level of 286 students, ages four through 18. In June, New Covenant will graduate 22 seniors.
“Mennonites founded the school, and it started with 30 students,” said Hubbard. “It grew fairly quickly. It started as an elementary-through-middle school, and they started adding grades. When I started nine years ago, we had 198 students. Some of it is what parents are looking for.”
“We’re pretty conservative in our views,” continued Hubbard. “We believe God has blessed (the school), and it’s growing because of that. We think we’re a really good product. We have 27 Christian denominations represented at the school. We’re a Lebanon option.”
So this current expansion project can also be seen as the beginning of New Covenant’s future. And while there is a strategic plan in place to address that future, some of it comes down to New Covenant simply doing what it’s been doing.
“We pray about that,” said Hubbard. “But only God knows where we’re growing. We see that Phase Two coming. We want to offer more programs. I see the student population growing. Kids like to go to college, but college is not for everyone.”
“If you’re not making an impact in the community, what’s the point?,” Hubbard continued. “We want to make differences in lives less fortunate than ours. We don’t want to be a school that just talks about it. That’s service.”
For God helps those who help themselves.