I had the opportunity to travel to Delaware to celebrate the Induction Ceremony of the First State Military Academy, an innovative charter high school bringing new life to an historic educational campus with the help of USDA Rural Development. Since 1896, Clayton, Delaware has been home to the sprawling, 35-acre St. Joseph’s educational campus. The site first hosted the St. Joseph’s Industrial School beginning in 1896 and was used as a school until 1972; it made it onto the historic register in 2002. Most recently, the site was home to Providence Creek Academy, a charter school for grades K-8. Through a separate collaboration with Rural Development, Providence Creek Academy was able to build a new complex behind the campus to accommodate its growing student population. With the historic educational campus now vacant, the First State Military Academy had a chance to make it their new home.
Through a $6.3 million partnership with Rural Development, the all-volunteer Board of Directors for the high school undertook the extensive renovation project needed to turn the site into their permanent campus. The students now enjoy an updated, high-tech campus with sizable classrooms, a brand-new gymnasium, and a state-of-the-art media center. Staff members of the Academy have a functioning space in which they can provide an educational experience that focuses on the intellectual, physical and emotional growth of their students.
We celebrated the end of these renovations with Bulldog Cadets, their proud parents, an eager staff, and supportive Clayton community by congratulating them on the start of their new school year in this impressive facility and emphasizing the commitment of Rural Development to the bright future of communities like Clayton. Investment in rural educational facilities like this gives students in rural places access to the quality education they need to compete in today’s economy. Charter schools across Delaware have received more than $57 million of support over 15 years through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.