St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School in Palm Beach Gardens “shook things up” Aug. 29, 2010, with a “groundshaking” to mark the start of construction of a new 18,000-square-foot youth center and gymnasium.
After the “3 – 2 – 1” countdown, officials and students depressed handles on five red “detonators,” and a 40-foot blast of green confetti shot to the sky. The confetti blast came from four special-effects cannons hidden in a crate marked “Danger – Keep Away,” that was flanked by an engine from the Palm Beach Gardens Fire Department and a construction front-end loader. Another confetti cannon showered the crowd of parishioners, school parents and students.
“This marks the beginning of the new St. Mark’s Church and School campus,” said the Rev. James B. Cook, rector. The youth center and gymnasium is the first-phase of a multi-year project that will see major renovation of the church and school’s 11-acre site at the corner of Burns Road and Gardens East Drive.
“The new St. Mark’s youth center and gymnasium will enable church and school to increase its outreach and service to our community,” said Kay A. Carnes, head of school. “Not only will students be able to participate in PE classes regardless of the weather and benefit from large locker and shower facilities, but the new facility will also more than double our space for youth ministries. Plus it will give our St. Mark’s Lions basketball and volleyball teams ‘home court’ advantage for games!”
In his remarks, Rev. Cook thanked the St. Mark’s Parents Association, which, for the past several years, has earmarked the proceeds of its auctions and other fundraisers for the building fund. That enabled construction to begin on the $3.1 million youth center and gymnasium without the need for additional fundraising. The upcoming capital campaign will be directed toward Phase II construction on the main campus.
Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Eric Jablin congratulated St. Mark’s for choosing to construct the new building as a LEED-Certified “green” youth center and gymnasium, the first in the county.
St. Mark’s was established in 1963 in an old farmhouse on Alternate A1A near Lighthouse Drive. Its current location was purchased in 1964 and the first services were held in St. Mark’s Church on Easter Day 1965. The church is now among the largest Episcopal churches in the United States. Nearly 70,000 people worship at St. Mark’s each year.
St. Mark’s Episcopal School began as a preschool and kindergarten in 1976. It now has nearly 500 students from 3-years-old through 8th grade and a staff of 80.
Kaufman Lynn Construction, Leo A. Daly Architects, Charlotte Pelton & Associates, Inc., and Stonegate Bank sponsored the groundshaking event. Food Sponsors were Joseph’s Classic Market, C.R. Chicks and Moe’s Southwest Grill.