Sierra Lutheran holds groundbreaking for expansion

Sierra Lutheran High School board members, staff and students move dirt May 15, 2024 celebrating the launch of the site’s capital expansion.

Sierra Lutheran High School board members, staff and students move dirt May 15, 2024 celebrating the launch of the site’s capital expansion.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

Sierra Lutheran High School celebrated the kickoff of its multiphase capital expansion project in a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

Plans to grow the campus with new buildings and renovate existing classrooms will help bring chapel services, currently held at Hilltop Community Church, on campus, equip staff with more meeting rooms and support facilities and increase capacity by 100 students.

The new facilities have been designed by Van Woert Bigotti Architects in partnership with civil engineering and surveying firm Manhard Consulting. Metcalf Builders also has contributed to the project.

Enrollment for the school is projected to reach 170 for the new year in August. To accommodate its growth, 14,000 square feet in building space will be added to the campus.

“Our strategic planning, when we first opened the school, is that we’d get to between 250 and 300 students and we’d cap it because we don’t want to lose the community and the individual learning, and this is a family,” board President Julia Bonafede told the Appeal after the ceremony.

“This is God’s family, and building his kingdom is all part of it, and we’re almost halfway there to full enrollment,” she said. “And that’s why we’re building this facility because this (main) building can only handle 150 kids, and we have 170 for next year. We’re stuffing them in.”

Sierra Lutheran was established in Minden in 2002 and moved to its Roman Roads location in 2010.

School board members and faculty have looked forward to providing more science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) opportunities in the add-on. Part of the renovations to existing classroom space will include an augmented reality technology upgrades for immersive learning.

Chris Bonafede, husband of Julia Bonafede and head of Sierra Lutheran’s building committee, said Van Woert Bigotti’s team found the right opportunity to improve on the school’s original building design.

“It’s really driven from a principle of individual learning,” he said. “We don’t want to get too big, and we’re trying to assess where (the students’) strengths are. These types of additions allow us an opportunity to improve the design with specific classrooms. We’re not just going to shove everyone into the building, but it does give us flexibility and we’re going to create space and rooms to offer different types of courses.”

He said the new multipurpose room does allow the school to bring chapel services directly on campus, which will be more convenient for the school.

“You know the modern student,” he said with a smile. “They want it all. It’s a great design. It’s going to be challenging keeping school going while (construction’s) going on. But Douglas County has been kind enough. It’s very exciting.”

Construction also will include a retrofitting of an existing classroom and create an immersive learning room with all four walls and provide ceiling projection for augmented reality, Julia Bonafede said. Students can use it to study astronomy and “grab a galaxy” and look into solar systems for science classes.

“They’ll be able to do live physics experiments in three dimensions,” she said. “So we’re very excited.”

Chris Bonafede said the school will be the first in Northern Nevada to offer this feature.

Bryce Clutts, president and CEO of Metcalf, said the work about to begin on the campus isn’t a project.

“This is expanding an educational center that is leading students to Christ, so to be a part of that is pretty special,” he said. “We build communities, but more importantly, we’re leading the future. I know our team is anxious to start ripping out the ground.”

The school began its event with its final chapel of the year in the morning held by and dedicated to graduating seniors and recognizing several students and staff members.

Construction for the expansion is scheduled for May 28, with completion anticipated in May 2025.


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