Clermont Florida —
Members of the first class of the Lake school district’s Health Sciences Collegiate Academy are settling into their new digs.
The academy, a four-year dual-enrollment program aimed at putting students on a fast track toward a career in the burgeoning health-care field, now has a permanent home in the new Science-Health Building at Lake-Sumter State College’s South Campus.
On Monday, more than 150 people are expected for a grand-opening ceremony to celebrate the new 51,000-square-foot major addition, which officials said will be welcomed by LSSC students who live in south Lake and have had to travel to the Leesburg campus for classes.
The ceremony is set for 9 a.m. at the building located off Hancock Road.
College officials said the much-anticipated building — a groundbreaking ceremony took place Dec. 1, 2015 — also will allow the college to expand course offerings in Clermont to meet a growing demand for science and health-related courses.
“The demand has always been there,” LSSC spokesman Kevin Yurasek said. “We just haven’t had the capability.”
Sixty-five high-school juniors enrolled in the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy spent their first day at the new building on Thursday, the Lake district’s first day of school. They got a jump start on LSCC students, who start classes Aug. 21.
Academy students spend their first two years first two years of the program tackling a rigorous curriculum at their home school — either South Lake, East Ridge or Lake Minneola high — before moving to the Science-Health Building for their junior and senior years.
Students can graduate with both a high-school diploma and an associate in arts degree from LSSC and then opt for looking for work in the health-care field or continuing their education toward a four-year degree.
The academy program has 135 enrolled for ninth grade and 118 for 10th grade, according to district spokeswoman Sherri Owens. The students are going through the accelerated coursework at their home schools.
The new facility features classroom and laboratory space for biology, microbiology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, anatomy, physiology, nursing and health-sciences classes.
The bulk of the funding for the project — $9 million — came from the state. South Lake Hospital and the college’s foundation kicked in $1 million each and $600,000 came from reserves.
A laundry list of state and local officials are slated to attend the grand opening, including LSSC President Stanley Sidor; John Moore, president of South Lake Hospital; Lake school Superintendent Diane Kornegay; and state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha.
Following a ceremony and a ribbon-cutting, there will be an open house and tours of the building. Those attending can meet LSSC faculty members and learn about the course offerings.