University welcomes Orion students

Xavier's Alumni Center provides temporary space for 275 charter school students from kindergarten to fifth grade | August 24, 2004

Xavier students aren’t the only ones starting classes on campus this week. Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 25, the University’s Alumni Center is providing temporary classroom space for about 275 students from Orion Academy, a new Cincinnati-area charter school.

Orion principal Dennis McNeal says plans call for the students—kindergarten through fifth grade—to spend about eight days at Xavier while workmen put the finishing touches on the school’s permanent home in the former St. Bonaventure school at 1798 Queen City Ave. on the west side of Cincinnati.

Orion staffers were informed of construction delays in mid-August, and McNeal says the University became involved shortly thereafter thanks to Tim Kloppenborg, professor of management in the Williams College of Business. Kloppenborg is president of the board of Alliance Academy, a charter school in the former Catholic church and school St. Mark near the Xavier campus. Orion and Alliance share the same management company, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based National Heritage Academies, which originally suggested moving the Orion students to the Alliance cafeteria. But Kloppenborg decided to explore other options and approached Richard Hirté, the University’s vice president for finance, about use of the Xavier space.

The University responded quickly, just as it did last winter when it offered space to Summit Country Day School following the collapse of one of that institution’s buildings. On Friday, Aug. 20, workmen began setting up 14 temporary classrooms. By Monday, Aug. 23, the spaces were ready for the new students. Robert Sheeran, the University’s associate vice president for facility management, says Xavier is providing the space rent-free, with Orion picking up any extra costs incurred.

Although the projected stay is short, McNeal is grateful that the University stepped forward to help. “We’re happy that we had the connections with Xavier to be able to utilize this space as a temporary home,” he says. “It’s convenient and comfortable.”

“We’re pleased that we can once again use our facilities to help out a local school,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. “This is just another way that we can demonstrate our commitment to being a true partner in the community.”