BRADENTON -- A $1.5 million marine science center, meant to complement customized curriculum at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School, will open in late fall after construction begins in June.
The school will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the 5,933-square-foot center next week. The center includes a wet lab, two indoor classrooms and one outdoor classroom.
The center has been a strategic goal for the school since 2003, said Saint Stephen's Head of School Jan Pullen.
"We're taking full advantage of the fact that we have water rights in our backyard," she said.
The center will be on McLewis Bayou tucked in behind the gym with a portion extending out toward the intermediate school, said David Glaser, school spokesman.
The school already has a dock along the bayou and students use kayaks for experiments. Anything students collect to examine are carried into the school buildings in big buckets. Marine life is returned to the water so students have to work quickly to keep it alive.
"They'll just be 10 feet off the water now," she said.
Funding comes from a gift by the Elizabeth and Stuart Moore family, with contributions from Ken Keating and the estate of Betty O'Dell. The Moore family also contributed $2 million toward a $5 million athletic field project at the school.
Four of five Moore children attended the school with the two youngest daughters still in high school. Keating is a past parent at the school and O'Dell, who recently died, was a longtime friend of the school, Pullen said.
"This is what happens when people believe in you and we're thrilled," Pullen said.
Camlin Homes and Carlson Studio Architecture are project architects. My Green Buildings of Sarasota is the general contractor.
Students in all grade levels will use the facility. Students learn a marine science curriculum known as "One Ocean," a customized program for pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.