PACE — L.E.A.D. Academy employees kept busy during spring break putting the finishing touches on their new school.

On March 26, students from sixth to 12th grades started classes at L.E.A.D. Academy's new campus at 7121 Chumuckla Highway.

"We were waiting on a certification for occupancy, and it came early," said Melanie Perritt, an administrator at the private Christian school.

The early certification prompted staff to get the school ready to open over the break.

The school, or Joppa Project as it is known at L.E.A.D., is a dream that school founder Frank Lay had in 2013. The completed project will have 11 buildings on 30 acres, Perritt said. The buildings include eight classroom pods, a large multi-purpose cafeteria and a separate agricultural building. Outside, the plans are to have football and baseball fields, as well as a field house.

"The first phase is for three buildings," said Kace Browning also an administrator at the school.

One of three buildings is complete. It houses administration and can hold up 180 students in its classrooms.

"The best thing about Phase I is it's all paid for," Browning said. "We are trying to pay as we go."

The project has two more phases to complete.

"We are still raising funds," said Perritt.

The school will start taking third- through sixth-grade students next year and then phase in the first and second graders, according to Perritt. The school's K-4, K-5 prekindergarten program will remain separate at the Berryhill Road campus.

A grand opening is scheduled for September 2019, Perritt said.

"L.E.A.D. Academy has 400 returning students and about 60 still in the application process," Browning said.

L.E.A.D. stands for Leadership, Enthusiasm, Attitude and Discipline. For more information or to schedule a tour, go to