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Lighthouse Church & Christian School

Madison, WI

Church and Christian school closing the achievement gap expands service to low-income, minority students and its community and congregation with a two-phase commercial renovation

Enrollment at Lighthouse Christian School had more than doubled over four years, and leaders expected the trend to continue. But all of its programs – state-licensed child care for ages 2-12, 4K, and kindergarten through sixth grade – were housed within its modest, one-story founding church. The school was making sacrifices that affected students and teachers – and according to Pastor Tia Sierra, was “invading the church building” and negatively impacting Lighthouse Church membership.

Leaders began planning for a separate school building that would accommodate growth projections and community engagement goals.

Enrollment driven by community outreach mission and state voucher program

Community outreach is a key part of the Madison Christian school’s mission; a primary goal is affecting positive change in minority students’ academic achievement. Limited classroom size and a bilingual program are two of many factors in the school’s majority low-income and minority students achieving improved scores on the state’s reading and math proficiency tests.

Another factor impacting enrollment is a State of Wisconsin voucher program, Wisconsin Parental Choice, which provides financial aid for private school tuition to income-eligible families. Lighthouse Christian School was the first private school in Dane County to participate in the program. When leaders began researching Madison-area contractors, more than half of Lighthouse Christian School students attended on state vouchers.

Partnership with Madison, Wisconsin church building and design contractor

The church and Christian school’s leadership hoped to work with a local Madison construction company and sought one with church building and design experience.

Lighthouse Church and Christian School discovered NCI-Roberts through its partner architect Building God’s Way – they attended the first seminar hosted by the contractor and architect in Milwaukee, and worked with NCI-Roberts client services director Robin Roberts on designs and budgets for several different potential properties.

Two-phase commercial renovation in Madison

With the help of an owner’s representative, Lighthouse ultimately purchased a 37,260 square foot building from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and with NCI-Roberts planned a two-phase project.

The Wisconsin Christian school secured financing and launched capital campaign that was quickly supported by area leaders. Madison contractor NCI-Roberts demolished the interior and began work on the first phase of construction totaling 24,000 square feet.

Office space
Break room

Building Blessing and “Holy Graffiti”

To mark the beginning of commercial renovations to its first dedicated school building, Lighthouse partnered with NCI-Roberts Construction to host a Building Blessing event.  Church members, students and their families, and leaders and members of their new neighborhood were offered tours of the building and invited to write blessings and bible verses – dubbed “holy graffiti” – on a banner and on unfinished walls.

According to NCI-Roberts Construction Project Manager Jace Jontz, “there wasn’t a hall missed.” The banner remained in a prominent place throughout the construction and inspired the Madison construction companies on a daily basis.

Building blessing event
Church members, students and their families, and leaders and members received tours of the building
Writing blessings on the unfinished walls
“Holy graffiti”

Successful first phase of commercial renovation for Madison Christian school

The first phase of construction, completed just before the school year began, includes:

Exterior with new bike racks
Front desk
Hallway to classrooms
Toddler room
Lunch room
Library space awaiting shelving
Library lounge area

second phase joins school and church once again

The following year, NCI-Roberts completed a 12,000 square foot second phase interior renovation.  Lighthouse found a buyer for their original church and determined joining church and school once again was advantageous. A new multipurpose room is the central feature of the second phase and is used as an auditorium, gymnasium and sanctuary for both the school and the church. The space incorporates a raised stage, gymnasium finishes, and seating for 450 people. A meeting room with 150-person capacity, a prayer room and additional storage space was also constructed.

Entry to multipurpose room
Multipurpose room
Gymnasium space and seating for 450 people
Multipurpose room
Seating and raised stage
Raised stage
View from the raised stage
Audio visual room overlooks multipurpose space
Meeting room that seats 150 people
Prayer room

The Lighthouse community gave thanks and prayed throughout and following completion of the structure.  Photos provided by Lighthouse Church and Christian School.

Giving thanks for the new church and Christian school
Lighthouse team feeling blessed to be in their new space
Celebrating the completion of their structure
Lighthouse community in their new space
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