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Faith Christian upgrades mean no more wet students

December 19, 2018

When Phillip De La Rosa was named school administrator for Faith Christian Academy in Pasadena four months ago, he immediately embarked on a journey to ensure not only the school’s success, but its legacy.

With his extensive background in private school education, his history with Faith Christian and his love for its students, he knew the teaching staff was solid and the administration dedicated, but he saw that changes needed to be made in both the interior and exterior of the school to bring it up-to-date to provide a modern environment for teachers, students and parents.

“You want to be proud of where you work,” De La Rosa said. “You want to be proud of where you go to school, and even though there has always been plenty of love inside these buildings’ walls, I felt like it was probably time to show that love on the outside as well.”

De La Rosa has worked in private and Christian education for 36 years. He worked for Faith Christian for 11 years starting in the late 1980s and ending in the ’90s, serving as varsity coach for volleyball and basketball. He left and then came back in 2010 to serve as athletic director. In August, he was offered the school administrator position and wasted little time moving on projects that would give the college-preparatory school, which has had little, if any, renovations since it opened in 1973, a much-needed facelift.

De La Rosa explained that there was carpet in the building that hadn’t been changed in more than 30 years.

“We’re not sure if it was supposed to be red, brown or black,” he said, joking, “there were so many colors in it.”

The letters had faded on the wooden sign welcoming people into the school, which is at 3519 Burke Road. A marquee — the old style with letters someone needed to apply with a suction cup, sliding them into groves on either side of the sign — was the cause for many frustrating mornings for De La Rosa and the maintenance staff.

“The grooves the letters fit into were old and they had loosened,” he said. “On windy days the letters would all blow out all over the place. We’d be out there picking them up and trying to put them back into the sign so parents and the community could read our announcements. I spent many a cold, wet morning out there picking up those letters. And even though they’re made of hard plastic, they can only take so many beatings before they break, too.”

The administrator said that he knew renovations were needed but that getting them accomplished might be difficult since the school was working on a shoestring budget for makeover projects.

“It’s tough,” he said. “When you’re a small private school, the money you make not only has to go to staff salaries, but also maintenance and upkeep, and those things get expensive and overwhelming sometimes, but something had to be done. It was going to be the only way we could retain current students and recruit new ones.”

So he called in for reinforcements. He asked for donations, called up companies he had done business with before, he asked for people with knowledge and skill sets to help. In the end, he got it done.

The rotten wood letters have been replaced with a new, sturdy sign. The much-maligned marquee has been upgraded to an LED sign that can be controlled from inside the office. The carpet in the offices has been replaced with tile, walls have been reconfigured to create more useable classroom space, sliding bleachers have been installed in the gym, landscaping has been added, buildings have been painted to a more modern, open feel and — most importantly, De La Rosa said — an 18-by-30-foot awning has been added to the front of the building.

“On rainy days, our teachers and students would come in here soaked,” he said. “The teachers would run out there with umbrellas to walk students inside and the umbrellas would turn inside out and they’d all get wet anyway — it was a mess! I wish I had taken pictures. That alone would have been perfect evidence for why we needed that awning.”

De La Rosa estimates that without donations and help from local community members and vendors, the total renovation would have cost about $108,000.

“But with all the help we got, we were able to do all of it for about $54,000,” he said.

Faith Christian’s enrollment is up by 43 students from last year.

Right now, the school is about done with the facelift, but De La Rosa said he has one more task he’d like to tackle.

“We now have a big, beautiful white wall in the gym,” he said. “I’d like to make that an accent wall. I think that would look nice.”

To find out about more about Faith Christian Academy or to get information on enrollment, visit https://www.fcapasadena.org or call 713-943-9978.

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