Oasis Academy breaks ground on new high school

Students file into the construction site last week for the groundbreaking of a new building to house Oasis Academy College Prep.

Students file into the construction site last week for the groundbreaking of a new building to house Oasis Academy College Prep.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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Over the years, Oasis Academy’s chief executive officer has proved the naysayers wrong.

At last week’s groundbreaking ceremony for a new high school, Melissa Mackedon beamed with excitement by thanking the leadership team and board member Frank Woodliff III for their determination to ensure the charter school took the next step forward.

“Getting this project off the ground has been a heavy lift,” said Mackedon, who’s been with Oasis since it opened in 2011. “Every member of this team already had a full plate with lots of responsibilities and those did not disappear when we started this project.”

Not only did Mackedon discuss the construction, she also discussed fate.

With the ongoing excavation, she said a horseshoe was found tucked in the ground and thought the good-luck relic should be placed above the academy’s door.

That lucky horseshoe, though, forecasts the excitement the staff and students have with construction beginning on a new building. The Oasis Academy College Prep school, which will cost more than $8.5 million, recently received a boost when the William N. Pennington Foundation provided a $4.3 million grant to help with the construction of the Oasis Academy College Prep off Venturacci Lane. The school is scheduled to open for the fall semester 2024.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to this team and how fortunate we are as a high-school community to have them,” Mackedon said.

Mackedon thanked both the school’s external partners and guests from Western Nevada College and the Nevada System of Higher Education including regent Carol Del Carlo who represents Churchill County. Mackedon said the external partners helped the school reach its next step with the groundbreaking. Yet, it was the vision through both the good and bad times for the past 12 years that guided Mackedon and her staff.

Oasis was established 12 years ago, and by 2015, the school added the lower high-school grades. The academy then expanded to include all four grades of high school. All classes were held in the former Walmart building on West Williams Avenue, but during the past two years, high school classes have been conducted on the WNC campus.

“I want to go back to 2011,” Mackedon pointed out to the guests and students who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. “People said no way they will be opening a charter school in August, but we did. In 2015, they said a high school will never work. But it did.”

Mackedon released news that according to the Nevada Department of Education, Oasis is in the top 10 of schools in the Silver State.

“Then a year ago, they said there is no chance they will be starting construction in the summer of 2023, but they underestimated us,” Mackedon explained to the guests and students. “Let this be a lesson to you Bighorns. Surround yourself with an amazing team who is working hard toward a worthy mission and let the fact that you are being underestimated fuel you toward your goals.”

While the Pennington Foundation is providing funding for most of the new facility, Mackedon said through conservative budgeting and strategic planning, the timing has come to build a new high school.

Mayor Ken Tedford acknowledge the work Oasis Academy has done to build a new facility.

“It’s an exciting day to break ground with this project,” Tedford said.

With a new facility earmarked for the high-school students, he reiterated they will have autonomy with their own building and have more pride. Tedford said the building is necessary because of the growth in the high-school grades.

“I think that’s super and important,” he added. “The leadership has planned this out well. I’m very proud of them.”

Before the groundbreaking, several people involved with the design and impending construction addressed the visitors.

Jeff Frame of Frame Architecture said he was impressed with Mackedon’s story of proving the doubters wrong over the years.

“You just heard a great story about vision,” Frame said, explaining how his firm looks for that expectation with their clients. “It’s exciting to be in a project like this.”

John Burr, vice president for field operations for Miles Construction, said his firm is honored to work with Oasis Academy.

“We’ll be proud to have you come into this structure and continue your education,” he said.

Mackedon said her leadership team was impressed with Miles Construction. She said the construction firm promised to finish the building in time for the next school year and under budget. Mackedon also thanked the city of Fallon by completing the permitting process in a timely manner.

“This ensures us to have school choice in Churchill County,” she said.


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