A dream five years in the making is finally coming true for Erath Excels! Academy in Stephenville.

The charter school, which provides an alternative education choice to students and parents for 9-12 graders, will soon move into its first independently-owned building. The new school was made possible with a loan through the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, and has taken nearly five years to complete.

“We have been in three different locations,” Superintendent and founder Debra Miller said. “We were in a doctor’s office downtown, the mall (or Bosque River Center) and a warehouse.”

Miller said the effort would not have been possible without board member Weldon Huston, who spearheaded the loan process.

“It took about four years to get it done and tons of paperwork,” Huston said. “I found (the loan) online and kind of initiated it on the Internet.”

Huston, who has been on the board for six years, said after working with several entities and professionals, including the City of Stephenville, an architect and a civil engineer, all parties involved were on the same page and got the ball rolling.

“We just had a passion to get a new school for those kids so we knew we had to keep going and keep going,” he said. “You just have to be consistent and don’t give up and you finally get it done one step at a time.”

And nothing can top the pride and excitement as teachers and staff prepare to transition from the current warehouse off US Highway 377 into the new, 12,000-square-foot building.

“It will be a school,” Miller said. “It’s a real school.”

The school, located on Peach Orchard Road, formerly County Road 257, will house 11 classrooms, a cafetorium and office space for staff.

Miller said the building will welcome nearly 100 9-12 grade students on Aug. 23 for the beginning of the new school year.

Miller, who began Erath Excels! Academy twelve years ago, said the charter school provides an alternative education venue for ages 14 through 21, who are seeking a high school diploma.

“I was a counselor at Stephenville High School and felt like there needed to be another option (for education),” she said.

Miller said Erath Excels! caters to students of all backgrounds, but finds itself a number-one choice for families looking for a smaller, close-knit environment.

“Some kids come to catch up and go back to graduate with their class and others want a smaller, intimate learning environment,” she said.

The charter school operates similar to an independent school district on several levels, except funding, including accountability status and employing highly-qualified teachers.

Erath Excels! Academy is currently enrolling students. For more information, call 965-8883.