Academic expansion |

Academic expansion

Christine Ina Casillas

The design for the new school in Edwards is meant to match its academic programs, connecting academia with the outdoors, school officials and designers say.

“We want to relate the river and the outdoors to the school,” said Gary Adams, an architect who’s designing the school. “The connection of the river and the outdoors is important, because the kids spend a great deal of time outside, as well as inside.”

The plans for the school, which will go before the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners at the end of September, are for the students to feel comfortable and safe at school, Adams said. If the sketch plans are approved, the school will be built next year.

“It’s supposed to be a village setting,” he said. “The school is to be a place where kids can have a sense of identity, a home rather than a place to go to class.”

Nature’s presence

The plans for the school also include natural lighting throughout the halls, he said. The Eagle River rushes behind the proposed school off U.S. Highway 6, across the street from St. Clare of Assissi school. Just beyond the river is Interstate 70.

“The school will pick up the sounds of the river that masks the highway and other things,” he said. “You’ll have the tide of nature permeating through the campus.”

The balance between safety and security also will filter through the school, he said, making it more of a community college setting than a high school.

“This school models what research in the country is saying about schools in small settings,” he said. “Some of these schools are so big, and the students aren’t supported or valued because there’s too large of a group.”

The small-school environment is one of the things that makes the school, said Steven Glandorf, principal of Vail Christian High School.

“The facilities and the staff are growing,” Glandorf said. “This is where we need to be now, and the cards are falling into place.”

The school now operates on a temporary site with modular classrooms at the Lutheran Interfaith Chapel on the corner of Lake Creek Road and Highway 6 in Edwards.

“After three years, we knew the school would be successful,” he said.

New home

But two acres suddenly became slightly too small for the growing school.

“Trying to find a site isn’t easy for a nonprofit in the valley,” said Rick Pylman, land planner for the school. “Where do we go when we don’t have any money?”

But every site in Edwards the school checked didn’t seem quite right, Pylman said. And the timing wasn’t right.

“Last spring, an opportunity came up to look at the site across the street from St. Clare of Assissi,” he said. “The decision for that site was made in a hurry. It’s going to be a great home for Vail Christian.”

The land sits on about 205 acres, crossing railroad tracks, highways and river. The $9.5 million school will take up about 7 acres of the property. A parcel of the land west of Sloans Creek Road could be turned into a cemetery, memorial park and gardens and open space.

The school also will be home to the third Interfaith Chapel in the valley.

“It’s a former state land board parcel,” Pylman said. “The land was used for other things and it will be dedicated back to the different entities using it.”

The school is about the kids, said Terry Halverson, a board member for Vail Christian High School.

Students from all over the county attend the school, Glandorf said. One student this year travels to the school all the way from Leadville.

Six years ago, the school started out with only 32 students. It has increased to 92 students with a full freshman class of 32 students with six on a waiting list. The new school is slated to hold 150 students with a capacity reaching 240 students.

“We want every student to be a success story,” Glandorf said.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at

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