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iLearn celebrates its new campus, a place to call home | Guam News

After years of dreaming and planning, iLearn Academy Charter School finally has a brand new campus to call home.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 69,000-square-foot Lions House campus is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in Harmon.

“We are opening a new school, a new school that we can call home and I hope we will be able to provide this quality of education to students in Guam for years to come,” said Rachel Alquero Stake, Principal academic of iLearn. , said. “It’s been a long journey.”

Helen Nishihira, Director of Operations, was equally enthusiastic when she told the Guam Daily Post what this means for the Lions.

“It’s exciting because, first of all, it’s like an ideal school, it’s a STEM school, of course, so each of the classrooms, there are all the whiteboards, but also the blackboards electronic blanks,” Nishihira said, using the acronym for science. , technology, engineering and mathematics.

The $32 million project lasted approximately 18 months. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in June 2021. The project was a collaborative effort between The Learning Institute, iLearn, Core Tech Capital Inc., Guam Community Development Enterprise, and the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority. Funding came from a variety of sources, including federal grants and low-interest loans, such as the Housing and Urban Development Program, or HUD, Section 108.

“What had happened was The Learning Institute, which is TLI, the non-profit organization went ahead and got all these investors including GHURA, so now we come for the rent, which is an allowable expense for a charter school. We are allowed to rent,” Nishihira said.

Guam law states that charter schools cannot construct buildings or use funds to do so.

Core Tech Capital provided the construction loan. The Guam Daily Post is a subsidiary of Core Tech International Corp.

The new campus has 35 classrooms, a gymnasium that can accommodate two classes at a time, and a cafeteria with a seating capacity of 600, helping to increase the student enrollment cap from 740 to 900.

The newly built facility will not only allow the STEM-based educational institution to expand student enrollment but also expand its curriculum, iLearn officials said.

“The main thing is just being able to have a permanent location that iLearn can really call home and start developing the programs that we wanted, like agriculture, robotics, and our after-school programs as well,” Stake said. “At the moment it is open to iLearn students, but a dream would be to eventually open an after-school program to elementary school students all over the island who could then participate in the various choices that iLearn offers our students to give more exposure.”

iLearn, one of four charter schools in Guam, provides education for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

There are currently 750 registered students, including 30 on the waiting list.

This is a major difference from when iLearn opened in 2015, with just 136 students and 12 staff. Today, the charter school has 51 employees.

Although the student cap has been reached and there are over two dozen on the waiting list, iLearn continues to accept applications.

The Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration played a role in building the school, Lieutenant Governor Joshua Tenorio said.

“Well, we are very happy to have a new school (campus) open and iLearn has been able to provide integrative technology and excellent education to its students, so we are very excited,” Tenorio said. “We look forward to great success and successful students coming out of school.”

The iLearn campus is the first school to be built through a creative funding model under HUD, as well as the first civilian project to use H-2B workers despite the negative impact of military buildup.

“There were so many significant challenges, … time constraints with the federal government and a lot of clearance delays, but there was a great team that came together, and one of them, of course, we lost Ray Topasna,” the lieutenant governor said. .

The late Ray Topasna was the principal of GHURA, he was instrumental in making the dream of the iLearn campus come true and moving in just two weeks before the start of the new school year on August 23, Tenorio said.

“It really shows how, when the community comes together, remarkable things can happen,” Tenorio said.

“We are so grateful to have had the support of government officials, our charter school board, parents and students, because it hasn’t been easy, but we are so committed to the students here. in Guam,” Stake said. “We believe in our program, we know it is excellent and here we are with the support we have received from the island.”

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