Elliana Lewis knows exactly how she feels about Mid-Columbia Partnership’s new building.
“Oh, I love it,” the second-grader said.
The program’s former home, in a cluster of portable buildings at Lampson Stadium, was cramped, she said.
But there’s plenty of room to spread out, learn and have fun in the new space, which is at the former site of Desert Hills Middle School off West 12th Avenue in Kennewick. The building shares a campus with Fuerza Elementary.
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Elliana and hundreds of others were on hand Thursday for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the new facility.
“I love how the district repurposed an old building to make it our new home,” said Carrie DeForest, the program’s elementary principal.
“Fiscally, it was very responsible,” added Dianna Veleke, the secondary principal.
Both women said the building is the ideal size and in an ideal location for their program, which moved in last week.
Mid-Columbia Partnership is the district’s homeschool program. It provides curriculum and support to parents who are homeschooling their children, and it also offers a range of classes, from STEM-centered instruction to art and archery.
It’s home to about 330 students in kindergarten through high school, with 22 teachers and other staff members.
The program draws students from Kennewick and throughout the Tri-Cities area.
It dates to the early 2000s, starting off in a double portable at the district’s Fruitland Building.
As it grew, more portables were added. But a more permanent facility was needed.
When school district voters in 2015 approved a bond that included rebuilding Desert Hills in a new location, the wheels were set in motion. The district kept the old school’s gym and remodeled it into the new Mid-Columbia Partnership facility.
The 24,000-square-foot building has 11 classrooms, a gym, a cafeteria, offices and family spaces.
MMEC Architecture & Interiors handled design, and Chervenell Construction Co. was the contractor.
The project cost about $6.7 million, paid for with capital funds and not bond dollars.
“I pinch myself daily when I walk in the hallways and think about this building,” DeForest said at the ceremony. “It is a dream come true.”