Former south side middle school property to become academy campus

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A tuition free academy focusing on developing young men has planned an expansion, expecting to leave a big impact on students and the community.

Leaders of Smith Academy for Excellence bought the former Village Woods Middle School property on E. Maple Grove Ave., near S. Anthony Blvd. and Pettit Ave. The school has been sitting unused.

The Smith Academy, formed in 2012, has been leasing space at St. John Lutheran Church near downtown.

The fully accredited charter school started by serving boys in grades six through nine and eventually grew to fourth grade through senior year. The Maple Grove location will welcome both boys and girls and have classes starting as young as kindergarten.

Among other goals, school leaders hope to transform a field at the Village Woods property into a turf football/soccer field and track. The academy is a member of the I.H.S.A.A. with a plan to grow their athletic program to several sports.

S.A.F.E. educators work with local organizations and post-secondary schools to develop the lives of the students beyond the classroom. The expansion has gotten the support of the YMCA, Bloom Project, The Brandon Foundation and Courageous Healing.

Although the property has been purchased, Smith Academy continues to raise money to pay for construction. The SDI Foundation has helped fund some of the work.

Construction could begin next year to renovate the new property, with a goal of completion before the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

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