Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Work is underway on a $2 million residential hall at The Brook Hill School, and is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
The 17,000-square-foot facility, which will house 40 young female boarding students, was designed by Tyler architect Mike Butler. RPR Construction of Tyler is the project's contractor.
“They've done other construction projects for Brook Hill, like the Kyle Lake Athletic Center,” said Shawn Rhoads, director of the school's residential life program.
The new residence hall features 10 residential suites that house four occupants. Each suite includes a sitting area, double-shower bathrooms and two bedrooms. Downstairs common areas feature a large kitchen with a utility island and an attached pantry containing individual food lockers for students; laundry facilities, separate study with raised study tables, group study tables and data/power ports for electronic gadgetry.
It's a floor-plan designed to give the young women an idea of apartment living, Rhoads said. “I would say that it is more like an apartment style set up, minus the kitchen, which is downstairs.”
Brook Hill presently has 40 students from The Federated States of Micronesia, China, Nigeria, America, Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand who are part of the boarding program, which is open to eighth-grade students and older.
Presently, boarders live in two 7,800-square-foot residences constructed in 2003 and named for the parents of school founder Steve Dement’s parents: the Wayne Dement house is home to male students, while the Ruth Dement house is where female students reside. Each house accommodates 20 students with spacious, two bedroom apartments for the host families.
Rhoads said that once the new facility is completed, residents of the Ruth Dement house will move in, thus allowing the school to take in up to 20 additional male boarders, subsequently allowing the residential enrollment to 80 students.
“We will be hiring two more sets of boarding parents – one new set will be in the new house, possibly two, if the existing girls’ parents are switched to supervising the boys,” Rhoads said. “We are currently searching for just the right parents to care for our students.”
When Brook Hill began taking boarders 10 years ago, the school's hope was “to extend a great Christ-centered, college prep, education to the world, but also to introduce international students to the Lord, then allow them to go back to their countries equipped with the message of hope,” he said.
“What this project and expansion means for Brook Hill is that the vision given to Steve Dement decades ago is being further realized. His dream has always been to see students from all over the world come to Brook Hill, not only to get a world-class education, but also to come face to face with the truths of scripture and make cognitive decisions regarding the claims of Christianity,” Rhoads said. “It only makes sense that we would make more room for more kids, both foreign and domestic would have the opportunity to benefit from such an educational experience.”
The school is the only one of its kind in East Texas, he added.