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‘We are going to make this something special’: Step of Faith debuts new gym

  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Step of Faith Principal Donna Carter was excited to finally welcome the community to the new gym.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Step of Faith Christian Academy unveiled its new $1.1 million gym last Thursday. The ribbon cutting had some help from senior Kaleb Hall and Hannah Bowen, who started at the school in K-3.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Pastor Ralph Lee welcomed the crowd before the ribbon cutting.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times The first shots at the hoop were taken before the alumni vs. students game.

Donna Carter was still bubbling with excitement three hours after the long-awaited event started.

The Step of Faith Christian Academy principal helped lead a celebration last Thursday for the opening of the private Ridgeland school’s new $1.1 million gym.

The facility had been in the plans for years and a groundbreaking was held in 2015, but finally the day had come when the school could unveil the gym to the public.

The ribbon cutting was something Carter had been waiting for.

“This has been a long time coming,” Carter said after the opening night’s events included an inaugural alumni vs. students basketball game and volleyball match.

Step of Faith’s new 15,000-square-foot gym ensures for the first time that the Chargers’ basketball and volleyball teams will be able to host games on campus. The facility will also host graduation on May 20 and the summer schedule is set to include cheerleading, volleyball, basketball and soccer camps. The school also plans to offer programs through Upward Sports, a Christian youth sports organization.

Plenty is planned.

The evening featured remarks from Pastor Ralph Lee, Margie Malphrus, chairperson of the Child Development Ministries Committee, Wilbur Daley, project coordinator, and Carter.

The elementary band performed the school’s alma mater.

Carter was thrilled to see the community come out for the event, including 18 former students, despite the pouring rain.

The people, the band, the special guests, and the on-court action all left Carter almost unable to express her joy.

“I don’t even know how to. …” Carter said. “Everybody had a great time.”

The gym, which has a shock-absorbing floor, expects to hold up to 1,600 people.

The land were the gym was built was donated to Great Swamp Baptist Church in 2003 by Leona Roberts DeLoach. In 2014, the school began serious discussions about building a gym. Three years later it came to fruition.

“Today we stand on that same piece of property to dedicate this gymnasium to be used for the glory of God for the school, for the church and the community,” Malphrus said.

The school, which hopes to raise funds for scoreboards ($8,000 for two) and motorized bleachers ($57,000), plans to invite the community to utilize the gym.

“We are going to make this something special; it’s going to see a lot of people come through here,” Daley said.

In a night of memorable moments, Carter said the ribbon cutting was special because it featured senior class president Kaleb Hall, who has attended the school since K-3, Jordan Rowell, who was part of the school’s first graduating class in 2010, and K-3 student Hannah Bowen.

The students — former and current — witnessed another step in the school’s growth.

“Glory to God, we are here,” Carter said.

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