The COVID-19 Pandemic doesn’t seem to be hindering progress on Marco Island Academy’s splendid new campus. Ironically, it may actually be speeding the project along. A new set of renderings for Phase III of construction was released Thursday, July 9, to Board Chair Jane Watt.
“The board just saw the renderings today,” announced Jane Watt, “they’re hot off the press.” The latest renderings are of the Steve and Barbara Slaggie Manta Ray Field (a full soccer field), bleachers, fitness facility, locker room, concession area and parking.
The original schedule had the construction crew being confined to a small area of the campus while sharing real estate with the students and faculty of the fledgling high school. A robust economy would also likely pull manpower from the job from time-to-time.
About the only thing that has slowed down the Gates construction crew has been a couple of rainy days here and there, which is to be expected.
Naturally, MIA Principal Melissa Scott is thrilled with the way things are progressing. “I’m really excited. It’s been so fun to see it rise from the ground.” Scott has an unusually intimate view of the construction. She literally works on the eastern boundary of the construction site and lives on the western boundary. So she literally oversees everything that happens at the construction site.
“You dream it,” she said, “and then you see it. I think it’s even more impressive when you see it. In my head I could envision it, but to see it come to life is really exciting. I’m excited for our kids to watch it grow.”
Scott feels progress is right on schedule for a possible January opening. “I think finished and furnished on time is a good way to look at it.”
“There’s a lot of variables to look at,” said Kevin Ray, Dean of Students, who is helping Scott oversee the construction. “We’re just taking it a day at a time. It’s exciting to see it go up, and to know what it’s going to look like in the future. Construction can easily be a quicker pace or a slower pace. There haven’t been any hold–ups or delays so far.”
Scott and Ray are very happy with their relationship with Wayne Herbert, the Superintendent from Gates Construction, who is in charge of building the school.
“He works very well with our personalities,” Scott said. “And he’s very knowledgeable in school construction. He’s able to look at the scope of the job and ask questions. He thinks ahead. He’s even thinking about my office. He knows I want to keep certain things. He thinks about it as a school, not just a building. Which I think is really important.”
Marianne Iordanou, Capital Campaign Chair, has been vital in ushering in the construction of the academy. “As the construction moves along, the excitement of our families, kids and community grows. We are moving forward slow and steady on raising funds due to the pandemic. But we are confident that once things get back to normal, we will be able to complete our fundraising.
“We are about 4.1 million away from our goal, but we are working diligently to bring our project to fruition. We hope the Marco Island community will help us finish our Phase II, including our fitness center. Our students are so excited to have a school campus they can be proud of. Our motto is ‘Onward and Upward.’ We hope community members will help us on behalf of our kids. MIA will be a beacon to Marco Island.”
Watt, who started Marco Island Academy with an idea in 2009, is enjoying seeing her dream come to fruition.
“There are rare moments in history when you have an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” Watt reflected. “This is one of those times. I am so thankful for everyone who has joined us on MIA’s journey to provide a permanent home for our students.”