Groundbreaking held for Schell Brothers aquatic center donation atSussex Academy

13 ACADEMY aquatic group ready to shovel GOOD

Participants in Thursday’s groundbreaking for the new aquatic center at Sussex Academy await the word to dig in. From left, State Sen. Ernie Lopez; Chris Schell of Schell Brothers that is donating the center; Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett; Jen Scott, Sussex Academy’s executive board president; Sussex Academy Director Dr. Patricia Oliphant; and Allen Stafford, Sussex Academy’s Finance/Operations Director.

GEORGETOWN – By mid-summer 2016, a new state-of-the-art aquatic center should be fully operational at Sussex Academy, courtesy of Schell Brothers.

And for Chris Schell, the project has been a lesson in indoor pool science.

“There are all kinds of issues created by the humidity and there are all kinds of indoor air quality issues created by the chloramines from the pool. Those need to be managed properly. Humidity needs to be managed properly,” said Mr. Schell at a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday, Jan. 7. “To that end, we have done a tremendous amount of research on the science behind indoor pools.”

Barring the unexpected, construction undertaken by Schell Brothers should be completed by mid-summer, possibly July, according to Sussex Academy’s Finance/Operations Director Allen Stafford.

Schell Brothers - Sussex Academy Pool Interior

A rendering of the interior of the Sussex Academy aquatic center.

The aquatic center will feature eight 25-yard lanes, an extra-large deck, pool-side showers, energy efficient components, an HVAC system to manage humidity, solar roof panels, an air evacuator system to reduce toxic chloramines plus a fresh air ventilation system and a state-of-the-art pool filtration system.

“So, with my daughter swimming in this pool and other equally as important children swimming in this pool we needed to make sure we did it right,” said Mr. Schell.

“We hired a consultant, took a step back and now we have absolutely a state-of-the-art pool. We redesigned almost everything. We upgraded some of the equipment.”

The pool’s shallow end starts at just under four feet with the maximum depth reaching six feet. But there won’t be any diving boards.

“It is purely a swimming pool. It is not meant for diving,” said Mr. Schell. “It is designed to handle all activities, aquatics, not just for kids but adults, too. This pool is not being built just for Sussex Academy students. I want it to be an amenity for the entire area. I want it to be used pretty much non-stop.”

The 25-feet lane distance fits that need, Mr. Schell said.

“Even if we wanted to spend the money to make it 50-meters, which we don’t, 50-meters is completely inappropriate for a high school, and it would be even more inappropriate for the youth that we hope uses this pool,” said Mr. Schell.

The center will be equipped with an automated timing system linked directly to the scoreboard, touch pads complete with lights and the ability to detect time and false starts.

Located on Airport Road, Sussex Academy is a public charter school free of tuition for its students currently serving grades 6 to 11. Eleventh grade was added in the fall of 2015 with 12th grade to be added in fall 2016.

Sussex Academy offers swimming, basketball, baseball, softball, field hockey, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, cross country dance, cheerleading and golf. Like the whole 12th grade, tennis is to be added in 2016.

Mr. Schell said the Schell Brothers’ aquatic center donation has family ties, although the company did not disclose the projected cost of the project at the groundbreaking.

“My family loves this school,” said Mr. Schell, who visited the school five years ago at the insistence of his father. “My dad said, ‘You’ve got to go; your kids need this good education. So we visited the school and I was amazed at the quality of students. It seemed so much different than I expected. The kids were so well-behaved. There was something different about Sussex Academy.”

“My dad supported the school so much that I wanted also show support and I think one of the things this area is missing is a good competition pool. We have the YMCA, and maybe there are a couple other pools I don’t know much about, but we don’t really have a major competition pool. All of the major swim meets, especially obviously the ones that take place in the winter, have to take place up north which has tons of pools,” Mr. Schell said.

“We don’t have that down here. And in our state, unlike some other states, the state doesn’t put a tremendous amount of money behind sports amenities for children. You go to Maryland and it is entirely different,” Mr. Schell said.

Jen Scott, president of Sussex Academy’s executive board, thanked Schell Brothers for “this amazing generosity” and ”vision” for excellence.

Mr. Schell in turn recognized Sussex Academy Director Dr. Patricia Oliphant’s dedication and commitment to the school, saying without her, “this would not have happened.”

Mr. Schell added, “Charter schools do not get as much money as some of you may know as the public schools do per student. And they get no money for capital improvements, which is why donations like this are necessary and needed.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.