The “This I Believe” fundraising dinner was a beautiful evening to catch up and explore the immediate future of Illiana. I particularly enjoyed the way in which the evening wove together the great things that are happening at Illiana today with the hopes and plans we have for the future.
Here is a link to the virtual tour video shown at the dinner: Virtual Tour.
Due to the story-telling nature of the evening we did not get into a lot of detail about the new campus. Although I don’t want to drag you through the placement of light fixtures or the number of toilets, I do want to share a little more detail than the video could convey.
The new campus will be located on 37 acres of what is now farmland. This compares to the 9 acres of the current campus. Despite this dramatic increase in land, the new campus will not have any unused space. We will use it all for athletic spaces and parking spaces that are now inadequate. The number of parking spaces on campus will be more than doubled. There will also be a central open space which can be used for various outdoor needs such as an outdoor chapel service. (We are not planning to build football into this new campus, but that is always a possibility for the future.)
The athletic fields for all current sports–including a track— are spread across the west half of the campus. We do not plan to install artificial turf due mainly to the exorbitant expense. We have tried to optimize the specific orientation of each field to reduce sun glare and recognize prevailing winds. The fly-by video shows an expanded set of fields to the south. These would be added as needed. We are trying to work out an option to purchase that land at some time in the future.
Inside the building, visitors will find the same number of classrooms as the current facility. They are arranged differently with the intention of increasing efficiency of instruction and movement within the building. Classrooms are mostly spread among two floors in the north wing of the building. While the number of classrooms is essentially the same, the average size of those rooms is significantly larger (increased from 700 square feet to 810 square feet) to allow for greater flexibility in instruction. Also, the classroom wing includes several “classroom commons” which are open areas for a cluster of classrooms to share for collaboration or some other shared learning. The four science labs will be dramatically more up-to-date and suited for science. They will also be grouped together with shared preparation areas. (Currently, our science classrooms are spread out over three different levels in the old building. The most elaborate of those classroom/labs has not been updated in 30+ years!)
It is hard to overstate the benefit of getting the entire school air-conditioned. Currently, our school calendar is largely dictated by the absence of air-conditioning. And the lack of air conditioning does significantly diminish the effectiveness of instruction during that first month of the new school year. In the new campus, the entire building will be air-conditioned efficiently. It is estimated that despite being a bigger campus and adding air-conditioning, that the utility costs will actually be equal to or less than the current “hotbox” building. Also, the lighting will be upgraded to high efficiency LED lighting.
We did not visit the Art Room on the video tour, but it will be a dramatic improvement over the art space that is confined to a small classroom space in the basement of the current campus. The new Art Room will have plenty of natural light and will be located close by the auditorium stage to facilitate sets construction as an extension of the Art program.
The auditorium will have an initial capacity of 700 so it will be able to seat more than the current campus population of 520 students plus teachers, staff, and guests. The entire campus has been designed to serve an initial population of 600 students, but we have expansion plans that would accommodate 900 students while maintaining the larger shared spaces. In the auditorium this would involve adding a balcony to seat an additional 200. As mentioned in the fly-by, the new auditorium is much wider than the current narrow auditorium. So although it will seat almost twice as many people, the back row of seats and the stage will be more than 20 feet closer than the back row of the current space. The auditorium will be acoustically balanced, will have a large stage area, much stronger sound, and a considerable back-stage area.
The Media Center will feature mostly digital media and will be a more open space off the second floor of the main commons. It will also have a fix-desk to assist with school-issued laptops.
The Resource Learning Center will serve students with special needs in a way that is appropriate for them. This continues to be an important part of Illiana’s commitment to being a full-service Christian school meeting the needs of students across the academic spectrum.
The kitchen will be on the main commons and is intended to serve daily lunch to all the students in two shifts in the main commons. This kitchen and commons will also be used by the community for dinners and other events. If necessary the commons seating can expand into the main concourse that serves the auditorium and the two gymnasiums.
There will be two gyms in the new campus somewhat similar to the existing campus. The layout of the gym will allow for an indoor walking/running course that encompasses the entire gym space. A significant change here will be an increase in the fitness room from 600 square feet to 1,500 square feet. The locker room areas will feature four separate team rooms (compared to the current two) and dedicated space to accommodate game officials.
The new campus will have an elevator to navigate between its two levels.
The new campus features one large, acoustically appropriate music room but it will have a space for instrumental music separated from a space for choral music. The Vocational Applications program will have up-to-date facilities, possibly with robotics. The Family and Consumer Science space will adjoin the kitchen to facilitate instruction in food services. The list could go on and on.
Overall the new building will provide 137,500 square feet of instructional space. This is about a 25% increase over the existing campus. It is so exciting envisioning the new ways in which we can serve God and our community with this expansive new facility! What a blessing this will be for hundreds of families over many decades! Thank you to the entire Illiana community for sharing in this vision and embracing the work that is being done in the name of Jesus!
In the Challenge of His Service,