Sonshine Academy History
History of Sonshine Academy
As we ponder the many memories over the years we find ourselves becoming a bit nostalgic and misty-eyed. If you will indulge us, we will take you on a walk back in time.
Sonshine Academy began with a dream and a promise in 1991. The dream was to have a place where children could come and develop their skills, coordination, strength, agility, etc…and feel special about who they were in a good, safe, Christian environment. The promise (which gave us the courage to pursue the dream) we received from God and it came from the book of Isaiah. “Thus says the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way that you should go.”
After the dream and the promise came endless hours of work to find and then design the facility, develop our curriculum, and create the written material and manuals. (God proved himself ever faithful through all of the tasks.) Sonshine Academy officially opened for classes Nov. 1, 1991 at 4:00 p.m. at 803 Harkrider. The building had 9,000 total sq. ft. which included one very small lobby and office, one dance room, and everyone sharing one tumbling floor (gymnasts, preschoolers, and cheerleaders). We broke the facility in well that night as we hosted our first ever Parent’s Night Out. We had 90 children for that first event!! In that facility we added new programs and classes and new equipment (as well as having gotten rid of some). We eventually added a Pro Shop and a 2nd dance room across the parking lot. In 1994 our youngest daughter was born and came to work with her mom and dad. Things really livened up then.
As we continued to grow and realized the current facility would soon be too small we tried to buy at least 5 different pieces of property to keep pace with that growth. None of those ventures were successful until the summer of 2000. We were then able to purchase 7.5 acres of land on the corner of Meadowlake and Donaghey. Construction started in the spring of 2001 on a 20,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility. Labor Day weekend 2001 we packed up everything (including the pit foam) and moved it to 2415 Donaghey. Thanks to many parent volunteers, staff, and family members we opened on the Tuesday after Labor Day. This was our dream place – room for everyone and space for lots more equipment and programs.
Then in early Spring 2005 we realized we were out of space again! So…we went back to visit our banker and our construction contractor, and they once again made the dream come true. We added on another 12,000 sq. ft. (bringing us to 32,000 sq. ft.), which gave us a 3rd dance room, a preschool gym, a cheer gym, and another party room. That area opened in October of 2005.
In the fall of 2012 we began to do some serious research about what would keep Sonshine Academy “cutting edge” and take us into the future. So…we began to visit other gyms, dance studios, etc… and talking to people about what they liked or wished they had done differently. Everywhere we went we were looking for fresh and exciting ideas. In January of 2013 we met with the builder again to see how we could remodel and expand once again. In early spring we met with our staff and showed them the new plans and refined things further. Finally, in late May we broke ground on a 20,000sq. ft. expansion and remodel which would bring us to a total of 52,000 sq. ft. It was a very complex project because of not only the expansion but re-working our current space as well – all while continuing classes. In October, we had hoped to move in but fortunately we were not as far along as we had hoped to be. That delay allowed us to meet some new friends in Florida who designed our outside façade, inside wallpaper, and our Preschool area. We are soooo thankful for that because of how they were able to take one simple idea and make it into something amazing! We spend the Christmas holidays setting up lots and lots of equipment and moving. The excitement was definitely building and when the students returned from break they were greeted with an almost completed construction project. The finishing details of offices, parking lot, and preschool gym took a couple more months to complete. However, there was now a Cheer & Tumbling gym equipped with 3 spring floors, 1 non-spring floor, 4 tumble traks, 3 rod floors, pits, a 4th dance room, 2 additional party/after school care rooms, new office space and entrance, expanded Pro Shop, a gymnastics gym with more space and new equipment, and an incredible Preschool Jungle Gym!
This has been and continues to be a very exciting adventure. Our thanks must go to our Heavenly Father who indeed kept His promise and continues to do so. We are nothing without Him. Second, we must acknowledge the wonderful staff that has been such a part of making Sonshine Academy what it is today. They are a beautiful mosaic of talents and treasures. Last, we thank each of you for sharing your children with us. They are all treasures and we consider it a privilege to be a part of their lives.
We are looking forward to the years ahead with confident anticipation in God’s faithfulness and goodness. We are excited about what God has in store for Sonshine Academy. It has been, and we are sure that it will continue to be a wild and wonderful adventure!