New 975-Student Boarding School Announces Groundbreaking on 16-Acre Pasadena Campus

Shovels are at the ready for Education First Academy event next Thursday

Published : Friday, September 20, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Image: The term "groundbreaking" may be a bit of misnomer for an event scheduled for Sept. 26 at the Pasadena site of Education First Academy, a new 975-student international boarding school on the former 16-acre William Carey University site. Demolition and construction actually began several months ago. Courtesy photo.

There is to be a groundbreaking Sept. 26 of a new private school campus in Pasadena and, judging by who’s planning to witness the occasion, it’s not going to be just another school.

EF Academy is a new international boarding school that claims to be the first-of-its-kind for the Los Angeles area. It is being built on a 16-acre plot in North Pasadena that formerly housed a Christian university.

The Academy said it will enroll 975 students in its first class when it opens next year.

School representatives said EF Academy will bring 750 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs, $5 million annually in new local spending, and $28 million in new municipal revenue for the city over the next 30 years.

No less than Mayor Terry Tornek and City Manager Steve Mermell, pink commemorative shovels at the ready, are expected to be on hand for the groundbreaking, according to EF Academy.

The City’s fathers will be joined by EF Vice President Shawna Marino and the founding head of EF Academy, George Stewart.

“With students hailing from more than 75 different countries, we’re thrilled to open EF Academy Pasadena and to build our new home in a city known for its rich arts and culture, world-class events, and top-tier science, research and design institutions,” said Stewart this week. “We believe EF Academy’s unique global environment will be a real compliment to such a vibrant and diverse community.”

Councilmember Margaret McAustin, in whose District Two the campus is located, told Pasadena Now, “It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know and work with the EF Team. EF has had an open and continuing community outreach effort with the immediate neighborhood and the community at large. ”

Education First is a Lucerne, Switzerland-based international education company offering study abroad, language learning, cultural exchange, and academic programs. The institution’s official name will be EF Academy International Boarding Schools Pasadena.

EF Academy characterized the current time as one of “growing isolation in foreign policy” and suggested a Pasadena school that fosters “cross-cultural understanding and global harmony” will represent a healthy, local antidote.

The campus is being sited on an updated and retrofitted 16-acre campus previously owned by William Carey International University.

EF’s plan included demolishing three of the existing structures on campus for a new resident hall, 72,000-square feet in size.

McGavran Hall, a potential Pasadena Historic Landmark candidate, will be retained and rehabilitated. Students at the boarding school will not be allowed to drive, thereby freeing up a 300-car parking space on the southwest edge of the campus for softer surfaces and greener space.

EF Academy plans to open it doors for the 2020 school year. The school touts its program as “academically rigorous” and focused on a “mastery of multiple languages and expanding students’ world view.”

Shawna Marino, vice president, EF Academy said the group has been eyeing a west coast campus for a number of years, searching for the right location, before deciding upon Pasadena.

“And so I think there’s a number of students who are already enrolled in our other campuses who are very much excited about the prospect of attending high school in Pasadena,” said Marino.

The event unspools from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a reception afterward. Franson Hall is at 1539 East Howard Street.

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