A decade after opening its door to students, a local charter school held a celebration Monday during a groundbreaking for its new facility which will be located within the city of Stephenville on County Road 257.

A cumulative effort on the part of administrators at Erath Excels! Academy (EE!A), the school’s board and a state agency finally made the dreams of Superintendent Debra Miller, who said the project had been on the drawing board for four years, a reality.

“Today is a dream come true,” Miller said.

The school has also been credited with making the dreams of many families, who before enrolling their children at the charter school, had all but given up on the children’s future.

“We have had over 385 graduates in 10 years,” Miller said.

Construction is expected to begin on the 14,000 square foot school in mid-November with the project completion date set for May.  

Many in attendance were there to celebrate the school’s ongoing success and dedication to students often sidelined by life, including Miller’s husband State Representative Sid Miller.

“EEA! is truly making sure that no child is left behind,” Sid Miller said.

In attendance at the ceremony were local and state officials, school administrators and board members, teachers, staff and students, as well as representatives of local architectural firm Parker and Associates, who was given the job of designing the new facility.

Johnny Smith, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development director, presented a ceremonial check on behalf of the USDA. The school was selected to receive a more than $1.3 million loan through the agency’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program.

In a press release, Congressman John Carter spoke about the importance of the program.

“It’s critical that we improve educational opportunities for our children, and this loan will help double the capacity of this school,” Carter said. “Erath Excels has a promising future because of this loan, as do a growing number of Central Texas students.

In addition to the local campus, which instructs an average of 80 students each semester, EE!A also has a campus in Taft.

Weldon Huston, EE!A board president said he was thankful that students at the school would finally have the benefit of learning in a facility designed for educational purposes, versus previous locations which have included a former doctor’s office, suites at a retail shopping center and a converted warehouse over the years.

“Through the USDA Rural Development Program a means for a new facility is being made available,” Huston said. “Words cannot express our thanks for making this dream come true. On behalf of the board of directors, our superintendent, and all the future students, we say thank you so very much.”