Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel is under construction in the Avalon Park West community, off State Road 54.
Officials for Pinecrest and Avalon Park West invited the community to a groundbreaking ceremony, held mostly indoors at Trinity Church of Wesley Chapel, which is next door.
The new charter school, expected to open in the fall of 2020, will eventually serve kindergarten through eighth grade, and possibly older students.
The opening will coincide with the completion of the widening of State Road 54, which runs in front of the school.
Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel will provide all students with a core curriculum of English/language arts, mathematics, social science, science, and electives, such as performing and fine arts, world languages, Project Lead the Way and other offerings, according to the school’s website. Parents who are interested in the school can go to the website (PinecrestWesleyChapel.com) to fill out an interest form.
Melissa Farmer, who attended the groundbreaking with her 5-year-old son, Mason, is one of those people who is interested in learning more about the school.
Even though the charter school won’t open for a year, she’s attracted to the possibility because she believes that charter schools tend to have smaller class sizes and usually offer a higher general quality of education.
So, when the Lake Bernadette resident learned that the new school was coming, she was eager to find out more.
The Pasco County School Board approved Pinecrest’s charter application in 2017. Academica is the education service provider for all of the Pinecrest schools.
Fernando Barroso, a representative of Academica, expressed gratitude for the support that Pinecrest has received from the Pasco County school district’s staff, and from the school board.
“I’d like to thank our partners in Avalon Park,” Barroso added. “Avalon Park group is a great entity. This isn’t our first school that we’ve built with them and it’s not going to be our last.”
Barroso added: “It’s been a tremendous amount of work, just to get here today. Yet, it’s just the beginning. The tough, heavy lifting, is in front of us.”
Pastor Dave Huff, of Trinity Church of Wesley Chapel, said he’s pleased that a new school is being built in the community.
“For the longest time, there was nothing but trees. The school coming in, is awesome,” Huff said.
Judith Marty, founding board chair of Pinecrest, is enthusiastic about bringing Pinecrest’s brand of education to a new locale.
“Thank you for being here and thank you for believing in us,” Marty told those gathered. Then, she offered a brief recap of Pinecrest’s history.
When Pinecrest began its first school, the construction was delayed, she said.
“So, we opened in a banquet hall with a hundred students.”
As the school’s operations went on, parents of fourth- and fifth-graders asked for a middle school, and then they wanted a high school, Marty said.
Now, Pinecrest has 16 schools and is opening more. Most of its schools operate in South Florida, but it also has four charter schools in Nevada and will be opening another one in August.
All of the schools are high performing, Marty said.
For instance, “Pinecrest Prep High School is graduating 99 percent, with a population that is predominantly Hispanic. We also are placing 97 percent of those students in college,” she said.
“Once we commit to a community, we’re not going to let you down,” Marty promised.
Beat Kahli, president and CEO of Avalon Park Group, told the gathering that in the mid-1980s he invited two dozen real estate agents in Orlando to ask them for recommendations of what would be good to offer the people of east Orlando, at what would become Avalon Park East.
Kahli suspected they would tell him to build golf courses, or a waterpark.
Instead, they told him: “We want good schools.”
From that, he learned, “If you have a good school, everything else follows.”
Now, Kahli is involved in creating Avalon Park West, which, when completed, is expected to have 4,400 residential units, 560,000 square feet of commercial space and 120,000 square feet of office space.
Avalon Park West kicked off the development of its downtown with a ribbon cutting last fall.
When the project is completed, Kahli said, it “will be a town, where you never have to leave if you don’t want because you will be able to satisfy all of your needs.”
“It’s great to be here in Wesley Chapel,” he said. “Let’s build this downtown. Let’s start with the most important — the school.”
Published June 19, 2019