Close to 200 people related to Dominion Academy, either as parents or teachers, huddled in the old Greenway Farms barn on the evening of April 26.
It had been a tough month for the crowd. First, parents and teachers were informed Dominion Academy was closing after Leesburg Community Church decided to discontinue financial support of the school. Then they discovered the low enrollment numbers cited for the closure were nearly 100 students too low.
But the crowd, who had spent much of the month figuring out how to re-start Dominion Academy without the support of Leesburg Community Church, was treated to a pleasant surprise when Greg Wigfield, businessman and pastor of Destiny Church, announced he was donating part of his commercial property to host the new school site.
“I just want you to know we want to serve you. That's all we want. You aren't going to pay me any money; you're not going to owe me anything,” Wigfield said.
Wigfield is the majority owner of the historical Greenway Farm property, located on Route 15 south in Leesburg. He initially planned on using the southern part of the property to build offices, but after finding out about the situation with Dominion Academy, decided to use the space for something else.
“We would like to change our plans and build a 26,000-square-foot property on the south side of this property for Dominion Academy,” Wigfield said. Three of Wigfield's children graduated from Dominion.
Parents and interim committee members for the new school were bursting with joy.
“It's just nothing short of a miracle,” said Jodi Mallon, chair of the Marketing Committee.
Though the new school now has a permanent home, it's not expected to be completed until fall 2015. In the meantime, the new school's Real Estate Committee is negotiating with different property owners to find somewhere to temporarily house the school. There are currently three buildings under serious consideration. Similarly, they are working to ensure they will have supplies for whichever building they choose come fall 2013.
“We will, in early September, have a school running with the resources needed to run,” Liaison Committee chair Terry Riley said.
Friday's meeting also boasted several other announcements, including a name change from Dominion Academy to Providence Academy. The new school was not allowed to use Dominion Academy in their name.
Marie Miller, the current academic officer at Dominion Academy, was unveiled as the new CEO of Providence Academy.
“Without Marie Miller, I don't know where we'd be right now,” said Riley.
Miller said that none of Dominion's current teachers have said they are out and thus far, 170 students have committed to join the new school, including some who had no previous affiliation to Dominion Academy.
She also credited much of Providence Academy's success in getting started to those willing to help.
“We've been covered by people asking 'how can we help?'' Miller said. “Even those with no affiliation to Dominion Academy.”
While the new school has a lot of work ahead of it, it has slowly started to make progress, including opening a bank account and filing the paperwork to become a nonprofit entity.
A 5K race to raise money for the new school is already scheduled for May 18 at Loudoun County High School.