This little school at the bottom of a hill, located directly off a major highway is the school that many people heard of, but couldn’t find on a map; cleared the forest surrounding it, built, and opened its very first gymnasium since its humble beginnings in 1993.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony held August 17, 2017, was not the beginning.
The beginning, planning and funding took time in the making, miracles in the planning, and one supporting resource standing out.
Grace Prep is most known to Arlington for its’ academic excellence, Christian and family values, and for graduating top students and famous athletes, despite having no court or field. Nearly a quarter of a century after opening, GPA is able to build and open a 29,000-square-foot building in their property. This building includes a gym, a student union, 2 science labs, an art room and administrative offices.
This gym, sporting the words “Lion Nation”, is a work of art. Engineers who worked on it said it was the pinnacle of their career, because it was an engineering feat to move the creek and forest around our 15,400-square-foot original building and make the land eligible to be built upon.
In other words, the pieces that came together to make campus growth happen here are nothing short of a miracle.
“God is in the details,” is not just a saying in our school. It’s a fact. The land was uninhabitable at first. But with a civil engineer who has a passion for ministry and a “no quit” attitude, amazing things happened.
A small creek could be re-located if it were to be moved less than 300 feet. Grace Prep needed 297 feet. The soil was deemed of the highest quality, making the foundation as solid as it needed to be. Two small, but huge things when dealing with the construction phase.
We began the G3 (God’s Growing Grace) Project last year, where 100% of our staff along with a number of families committed to monthly support for our new building. However, support from sources outside of GPA were still needed. That’s how we came to look to our community and local companies to invest in us.
PepsiCo, located in the NW Texas, became a recent addition to our team. It is one of the new sponsorship partners this year. PepsiCo offered Grace a lucrative deal over a 10-year span to become its beverage and snack provider.
Details of how this sponsorship came about are God-winks. Dr. Evans, Grace
Prep’s Head of School, noted that over a dozen partnerships have been formed and God has opened the door for them to join our team. The hiring of Chris Harper, Dean of Advancement, has redefined our marketing strategy.
Lauren Aguirre, the local Key Account Manager at PepsiCo, received a call from Pepsi’s call center on a typical day last summer. The caller said Grace Prep was building a new gym and wanted Pepsi to be a part of the process.
Aguirre miraculously remembered that Shawn Armstrong, the Distributor Beverage Manager for North Texas and Oklahoma, was a 1998 GPA
Alumni [basketball]. She asked Armstrong to join her in a meeting to discuss the partnership opportunity.
“She heard that I had graduated from there (because I brag about the school all the time) and asked me if I would like to join the meeting,” said Armstrong. “You’ve never heard a faster YES response!”
After the meeting, a tour of the new Grace Prep facility was arranged. Armstrong came out to visit the campus, met by Mr. Harper, for a look around the activity center.
“The tour was amazing,” said Armstrong. “Having played basketball there [at GPA] the thought of playing on campus always seemed so cool. My comment afterwards to Mr. Harper and your coaches was, ‘if I played here and went to another school I would definitely be asking myself why I’m not playing here!”
Looking back to 1998, Armstrong remembers:
“I joined Grace my senior year, which can always be tough at that age, especially leaving Texas Christian Academy, [now closed] and Coach [Tony] Lehew, but Grace Prep welcomed me with such open arms from the Administration, the Coaches, and the Students.
At the end of the tour, Armstrong was a little emotional, overwhelmed by the new addition to the school, happy for GPA as well as encompassed by the memories flooding his thoughts.
“When I found out there was an opportunity to give back and support the school through my company, our team was determined to make it happen, doing everything we could do to make the Partnership great for GP!” said Armstrong.
That is exactly what happened. Our gym is officially up and running and our athletes are flourishing.
Harper claims that when you have such great sponsors as Chick-Fil-A and PepsiCo, other companies know that they are all joining a team of excellence.
“Grace Prep is honestly the type of customer we love to partner with. When the people we are working with are as passionate about what they do as we are about our business, it’s a no brainer!” said Armstrong.
Thanks to the hard working team at PepsiCo, the wonderful families here, the faculty and staff, and many other incredible local companies, we have been able to successfully expand the size of our campus. Everyone is reaping the benefits.
PepsiCo was not the only sponsorship gained this year…
“PepsiCo, who owns Gatorade, also brought Gatorade to the table and we became an official G3 School through the deal, which means every year Gatorade will drop-ship tons of product every year,” said Harper.
Other partnerships include Ameriprise Financial and Mr. Derrick Kinney; Dr. Angela Moore and the Arlington Center for Dermatology; TruGreen Artificial Turf; Paisley Grace Boutique; All-State and Mrs. Patti Jones; Innovative Construction Services; and many others.
Originally, GPA did not do any fundraising for the first 10 years in existence because they didn’t want to burden families financially and they hoped tuition could cover all costs. They later discovered that tuition alone was no longer enough. Fundraising began with auctions in 2005-2014.
We began participating in North Texas Giving Day in 2015, but still needed to raise money specifically for campus expansion.
Grace Prep is very thankful for all the love and support from everyone involved in our school. We thank God for blessing us.