HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — The Academy is the educational arm of Spire Institute seeking to grow the number of students and reach out to those in the area, said Rich Odell, co-managing director of Spire Institute.
Odell said Spire has on-going camps and local, regional, state and national competitions in a variety of sports, but 2020 will mark the year of the Academy taking on a new look.
He said educational opportunities are planned for students young and old. Full-time students for the 2020-2021 school year will start to come to the Institute on Aug. 24.
Spire Institute is in the midst of constructing five dorms to be used by the students who are expected to come from all over the country and internationally, Odell said.
The students will be in grades 9-12 there also will be post-graduate students. Odell said Grand River Academy teachers will be providing the instruction in classrooms being completed this summer.
The educational program will be cross curriculum and collaborative, meaning students will learn a variety of subjects in an experiential curriculum instead of in silos of math and science, Odell said.
“What you are learning in any of these will be applied cross curriculum,” he said.
Odell said the plan is to help students learn life lessons and information for life-long decision making instead of just learning for a test. He said students will have five hours daily instruction and four hours relating to a “major” they choose.
The five majors include basketball, swimming, track and field, e-games and drone-robotics. Odell said the future of employment over the next 20 years will involve the ability to learn and change with the times.
He said life skills will also be taught at the Academy based on more than 30 principles, including trust, relationships, collaborative instruction, business and selflessness to name a few.
A new component to the educational system will involve career exploration that can also expand to the local community.
“We will have people who make their living in a particular field who will be on campus,” Odell said.
Odell gave the example of an architect who would come to teach high school and post-graduate students about the field, but also opening the classes to area high school students or adults.
Partnerships with companies, schools, non-profits and other organizations are being investigated with the hope of the high school students finding connections to potential careers through internships and those who are actively involved in their careers.
“We want to be a hub which would give our students chances for internships,” he said.
Connecting with area communities is definitely a priority, Odell said.
“We will do a variety of things when we get our feet on the ground,” he said.
Odell reiterated Spire Institute hopes to widen the age groups connected to the facility.
“Our service community is 9 to 99,” he said.
“There is nothing to say someone who is retired could not come down and take a drone class,” Odell said.
As Spire Institute regroups after Blue Ocean purchased the facility last year, Odell said they are not putting unrealistic numbers or goals out there during a pandemic, but are happy with interest shown so far.
“We feel really good,” he said of the students who have already signed up, expressed interest or have already been accepted.
A goal of 700 students enrolled is a goal moving forward, Odell said. He said an expansion to include grades 6-8.
A possibility for the 2020-2021 school year is to have NCAA Division I and II athletes come to Spire Institute if their chosen schools are not able to have them on campus this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve put it out to Division I and Division II coaches and they have been very supportive,” Odell said.
He said the goal is to help students who have a passion for something not tp have that pursuit squelched due to the pandemic.
Odell said he sees Spire Institute being a driving engine to help the local economy. In addition to the dormitories under construction, a cooperative hotel agreement was recently announced that is expected to bring a TownPlace Suites to the campus with groundbreaking to occur sometime this fall. The hotel is to be a partnership between Spire Institute and Renew Partners with JCI Construction building the facility and Emerald Hospitality Inc. managing it.
Odell said the facility is expected to take 12-14 months to complete and he hopes more hotels, businesses and restaurants are drawn to the Route 534 corridor. Spire Institute also hopes to continue large events at the facility that have included Division III Track and Field national championships, Big Ten and Big East track meets, high school state competitions and college swimming events, just to name a few.
“We are working to bring much larger events to the venue that will be not just a one-year [event],” Odell said.
“We will also be doing drone racing in the track and field facility. It is one of the largest in the country,” he said.
“We will also do e-sport competitions in the track and field facility,” Odell said.
A recent sunny afternoon found drone flying summer campers applying their new skills at the outdoor track. The students were all from the Los Angeles area and were experiencing a new skill at Spire Institute.
As the number of students attending the Academy grow, so will the shopping needs, Odell said.
“There will be more needs for shopping for students to outfit their rooms or supply their majors,” he said.
Parents will also need restaurants and things to do while in the area.
“I think the wineries will get a big pickup,” Odell said.
He said there will be medical needs for students at the school as the “footprint” of the organization grows.
Odell sees a growing partnership with the Cleveland Sports Commission as attempts to draw larger competitions to the area increase.
Spire Institute was originally started by Geneva resident Ron Clutter through the Geneva Area Recreational and Educational Trust.