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Ehrhart School breaks ground on new building
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
A Beaumont charter school with a special mission will expand its class space and other facilities. The Ehrhart School began as a school for the children at Girls' Haven, a non-profit that fosters abused and neglected girls. Now, the school accepts students from the general public. Wednesday, the school broke ground to expand and offer more Southeast Texans another educational opportunity.
Michael Guillry is in seventh grade. He's attended the Ehrhart School since pre-kindergarten and loves it.
"Because it's small classes it lets us learn, it lets the teachers work with us more, and it's just like home to me," said Guillry.
The school teaches up to the eighth grade, so Guillry won't be there when the new school building opens, but he's still excited.
"I think it will be very helpful to all the new kids that are coming, because those current classrooms are getting small," said Guillry.
One of the most important things about the new school building is increased space. It will have fourteen classrooms, which will allow the Ehrhart School to get rid of its portables and use the space for more parking as the school continues to grow.
"Oh it's just amazing the growth that we've had both at Girls Haven and the Ehrhart School, and we're just running out of space," said Alice Teeler, the director of Girls' Haven.
Teeler says the school has a big impact on the girls Girls' Haven fosters.
"Children that come from severe sexual abuse, physical abuse, family dysfunction, they have certain behavioral issues, psychological issues, they're often very behind educationally," said Teeler. "And I have a staff at Erhardt that understands my girls."
The Superintendent of the Ehrhart School, Lynn Hogg, says there's a waiting list for students to get into the school. The new building will allow the school to accept more students from the general public.
"These tennis courts are going to be taken out, and then this property right here, all the way basically over to the buses here," said Hogg, pointing out the area behind the school where the new building will be built.
The new building will have the school's first gymnasium.
"It's going to offer us basketball as a sport, and volleyball for the girls," said Hogg. "And it's going to offer us a place to get out of the weather and still have room to run and play, and so many kids need that. So, that's something that we've been needing for a long time."
It will also have a multimedia center where online classes will be offered.
"We're hoping to be able to bring in through the internet and through that distance learning some upper level classes for our kids that are in junior high age, that they can get on a path that's a fast track path to get through high school," said Hogg.
The multimedia center will also help Girls' Haven residents. Teeler says older residents, Girls' Haven houses girls ages 6 to 21, will really benefit.
"Some of my girls that just need their GED, or need some prep for adult living, some different classes to enhance their life," said Teeler. "There's going to be space in that building for those girls as well."
Guillry leaves for high school in a year, but he hopes younger students enjoy the new school.
"That they'll become even better persons and make a change in the world," said Guillry.
Teeler and Hogg say their long-term goal is for the school to one day expand to teach high school as well. Hogg says the new building will be finished in a year, and be ready to go for August 2015.