As the 2018-19 school year came to a close and 65 graduating seniors bid Foundation Collegiate Academy (FCA) farewell, the work to complete the year-long expansion and renovation of our century-old high school facility kicked into high gear. With just eight weeks to finish the upgrade before students would return, the pressure was on.
Since its inception in 2011, FCA has called 22 Grand Street in Trenton its home. As FCA’s enrollment and waiting list grew, so did the need for modern classroom, storage, meeting, and activity space.
“The school’s existing floor plan simply didn’t provide adequate space for our growing student population,” said Graig Weiss, Foundation Academies CEO. “This building was originally the Holy Cross K-8 Catholic school. It has a lot of history, but it was built in 1919, before ADA compliance, fire safety, and entryway security were priorities. The old windows and inefficient heating, cooling, and electrical systems were in need of a total upgrade. Overall, we needed to bring the building up to the high standard of excellence that our students deserve.”
Despite its shortcomings, the school’s history and importance to the community are two factors that tie the past together with Trenton’s exciting future with Foundation Collegiate Academy.
According to the Trenton Public Library’s Trentoniana archive, the philosophy of the original Holy Cross school was to “Teach its students to be citizens of two worlds: the present one, and the next.” For the past eight years, FCA has consistently fulfilled its mission to prepare its students for the nation’s finest colleges and instill in them the core values of caring, respect, responsibility, and honesty. By advocating for academic excellence and integrating community service into its curriculum, graduates emerging from FCA are well-rounded young adult leaders who are destined to make their mark on the world; now and well into the future.
To bring the building up to modern standards and increase educational space, FCA acquired the former Holy Cross rectory site located just north of the school building and spent the better part of the 2018-19 school year constructing a new 10,217 square foot addition. The existing school building received a complete HVAC, electrical, and interior upgrade, along with a slight reconfiguration to maximize the use of space and create new classrooms.
After a busy summer of construction, the newly-expanded and renovated Foundation Collegiate Academy proudly welcomed students back on August 20, 2019.
“It was amazing to watch the students walk in and see the space for the first time,” said Melissa Campbell, FCA Principal. “Hearing them say things like ‘This reminds me of a college,’ and sharing about how special they felt because we put the time and effort into creating this new space for them made me very happy. The positive response from our students is better than we could have imagined. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Entering through the brand new lobby, FCA students were visibly excited to see the transformation upon their return from summer break. Thanks to the facility upgrade, FCA was able to welcome an additional 30 new students for the 2019-20 school year.
“I think the new building is absolutely beautiful,” said Marissa Armstrong, an 11th grader at FCA. “When I walked in, I honestly couldn’t believe how they turned our old building into THIS!”
The $14 million revitalization and expansion project added 10 new classrooms, including a state-of-the-art science lab, a new main lobby and office with a secure entryway, an elevator, and a large, multipurpose Information Commons. This modern, light-filled space will serve as a library, media center, study space, and group workspace.
With these upgrades, FCA is now a shining example of the educational renaissance happening in Trenton – building upon our past to create a bright future.
Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.