KINGSTON TWP. – A Christian-based private school sponsored by local churches is in its foundation process and plans to begin its first academic year in August 2012, said Mark DiPippa, president of the school.
DiPippa, former director of development at MMI Preparatory School in Kingston, said the idea for the kindergarten through eighth-grade school called Rock Solid Academy began in January 2010. He said Rock Solid Academy aims to focus on development of the body, mind and spirit of its pupils.
“There was a group of parents that came together about 18 months ago … and Christians in the area decided this is something they’d like to pursue,” said DiPippa.
He said that over the course of 18 months several committees have formed with members from a few local churches including Back Mountain Harvest Assembly and Cross Creek Community Church in Trucksville, the Fellowship Evangelical Free Church in Dallas Township and First Assembly of God Church in Wilkes-Barre.
“My intention is to begin to meet with pastors of local denominations and generate an interest,” said DiPippa. “I’d love to see all sects of Christian churches involved, not just evangelical, but any church.”
The location for the school is planned for the Back Mountain, but no definite sites have been determined. DiPippa said that once it was announced that Gate of Heaven School on Machell Avenue in Dallas was going to close in April, he and other founders approached school officials about the idea of buying or leasing the space.
“They need their time to settle out,” he said. “That was an option as well as a couple of other buildings in the Back Mountain. When they decided to close, it looked like a great opportunity, but we understand their part as well. When it’s right, it will happen.”
The Rev. Daniel Toomey of Gate of Heaven Church said he has not yet “decided a vision” for the former school site’s fate.
Funding for Rock Solid Academy is still underway. DiPippa said when the process began last January, organizers had to wait until funds were readily available. An anonymous gift received this April changed the school’s timeline completely.
“We don’t have a set amount; we just got the green light to move forward with the project and found the school,” he said.
He also said a $1.5 million founding campaign will begin this year in hopes of offsetting the huge cost it will take to get the school off the ground.
“We’d like to have some endowed funds as well,” said DiPippa. “We’re learning from some of the schools that have taken on great amount of debt from the start and end up not having enough money start the school … we’re being a little patient.”