Old East Knoxville motel to be turned into school

Old East Knoxville motel to be turned into school

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Community members in East Knox County are transforming this old motel off Asheville Hwy into a school. Community members in East Knox County are transforming this old motel off Asheville Hwy into a school.
They gathered today at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for Freedom Christian Academy. They gathered today at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for Freedom Christian Academy.
For the last 12 years, classes have been held inside Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, located next door. For the last 12 years, classes have been held inside Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, located next door.
The number of students has grown fast over the years, so they've recently outgrown their limited space at the church. The number of students has grown fast over the years, so they've recently outgrown their limited space at the church.
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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Community members in East Knox County are transforming an old motel, off Asheville Highway near Carta Road, into a school.

The motel sat vacant for years and the rundown buildings are widely known as havens for illegal drug activity.

Those buildings have been purchased by Freedom Christian Academy and will soon be turned into a school. School leaders hope the revamp bring positive change to the East Knoxville community as well as provide the extra space their students have needed for a long time.

Parents, students and school officials gathered Sunday afternoon for the ribbon cutting of what will soon be the new home of FCA.

They plan to turn the old motel into their first-ever real school building. For the last 12 years, they've held classes inside Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church located next door.

"We move our stuff out every Friday and they move their stuff every Sunday," said Brittney Ogle, a 5th grade teacher at Freedom Christian.

The number of students has grown quickly over the years and they have recently outgrown the already-limited space at the church.

"This year we've had to turn some students away because we had full classes and that's sad, because we don't like to not have room for anybody. But with the space that we have available to us at the church, we're using all that we have," said FCA Principal Melanie Stipes.

They will now have much bigger classrooms for students, as parents saw Sunday in a walk-thru of the site.

"We'll have more space to move around and we'll have space for more desks and more supplies," said Mason Allen, a 7th grader at FCA.

Students and teachers will also have more kinds classrooms they have never had before, like a media center and music room.

"We are looking forward to having a science lab, a computer lab and a library. The library we have now is a very small room," said Stipes.

The new building is also helping them reach out to more children of East Knoxville. A significant portion of their students are from the area.

Their tuition is paid for through scholarship donations. The added space means they can enroll more students.

"That's our hope and our prayer and our goal to make a difference in East Knoxville and to make a difference in families," said Stipes.

While some of the building will be demolished and rebuilt, other sections will be renovated, helping turn what was once an eyesore for this community into a place where local children will learn.

"It's really fun, I'm really excited about our new school," said 7th grader Chloe Hamby.

School officials hope to have construction on the property complete in the next two years. In the area set to be renovated, they plan on some of their upper grades holding class there in as little as three weeks.

For more information about Freedom Christian Academy, visit their website or call them at 865-525-7807.

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