New head of school speaks as LaGrange Academy closes in on campaign goal

Published 8:30 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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On Thursday, the school family of LaGrange Academy held a celebration at Wild Leap Brewery honoring the donors of the school’s Path Forward capital campaign.

As the evening celebrated the school’s donors, it was also a beginning and end for the academy’s leadership.

Dr. Brian Dolinger, the current head of school, will be leaving at the end of the school year to take a position in Puerto Rico, as head of a school in San Juan.

“We love LaGrange and LaGrange Academy. This is our sixth year as a family being completely plugged into the school, and we’re going to miss it. It’s a bittersweet situation for us but the move became an opportunity for us to get back into an international context,” Dolinger said.

“We started our career in international education, and this is part of our arc to get back to that piece of who we are as a family. It’s not something that we had expected, but it’s a place that we truly love. This is going to be a hard transition for us, but we are confident that the school is in great shape and will be in great hands with Dr. Mehaffey.”

Taking Dolinger’s place in July is Dr. John Mehaffey, who made his first appearance as the new head of school during the celebration.

“I’m excited to be here and meet all the stakeholders of the LaGrange Academy. When I visited campus, I met some of the students, and administrators and excited is the only word that comes to mind,” Mehaffey said.

The campaign launched in January 2022 to help raise funds for a new educational building that will allow the school space to grow and comfortably accommodate 400 students.

Along with creating a new educational building, fit to hold more students, Dolinger said the building will be a two-story facility in the center of the campus that will have 14 new classrooms, new administrative offices and will drastically change the face of the school.

“It’s more than just building bricks, glass, and steel. This is allowing us to expand the opportunity for more families to attend LaGrange Academy,” Dolinger said. “This will also allow us to have a bigger impact in our community.”

At the time of publishing, Dolinger said the school has raised $5 million.

“We’re right in the homestretch of our campaign goal of $5.2 million. We have a stretch goal of $6 million and that would allow us to do some other renovations on campus and some other things we’d like to spruce up,” Dollinger said. “We’re confident that we’re going to see that full $6 million as we move through it.”

Should the campaign reach $6 million, additional projects include a more secure campus with an interior courtyard, media center renovations, founder’s hall renovations, gymnasium improvements and athletic field improvements.

Dolinger said they expect to break ground on the project this summer

“It’s all in the process right now. We’re waiting for surveyors, engineers and architects. Everything’s in motion, it’s just getting through all the different hoops that we need to jump through to get things ready,” Dolinger said.

“LaGrange Academy has been a pillar of this community for over 50 years. What we’re seeing now is great momentum and positive movement, coming together to lay a foundation for the next 50 years and beyond. We’re grateful for the students that we have now and the students are the future, and also to build on the legacy of the students that have come before.”