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THE BIG REVEAL: MPCS UNVEILS MURRAY INNOVATION CENTER

January 7, 2022

High School Expansion Adds 23,000+ Square Feet of Innovative Learning Space for Mount Paran Christian School

On Wednesday, January 5, before a small group of guests and school leadership, Mount Paran Christian School officially dedicated and unveiled the new Murray Innovation Center. The building, named after a generous lead gift from the Stuart and Eulene Murray Foundation, is a much-needed 23,000-plus square foot addition to the current Dozier Hall high school, originally built to house just 250 students. With its booming enrollment, MPCS – Cobb county’s largest private Christian school – is thrilled to offer innovative new learning spaces for its 450 high school students.


The dedication comes less than one year after the construction project’s breaking-ground ceremony on February 5, 2021. Despite the challenges of a pandemic, including shipping delays and materials shortages, MPCS has been able to open the building on-time and debt-free. The building’s completion is the culmination of a multi-year capital campaign, whose generous 276 donors contributed $12.9 million to pay for the new building in full, including the inception of the school’s first-ever endowment fund.


On January 6 and 7, MPCS faculty, staff, and high school students toured the new high school addition to sneak a peek at the bright and innovative learning and gathering spaces within. High school teachers will move into their new shared offices by the week’s end.


Beginning Monday, January 10, the “MIC” will officially be open for business, and students will begin attending classes in the building. The entire MPCS family will be able to explore the MIC on a self-guided tour Tuesday, January 11, with alumni tours planned for Friday, January 14, in conjunction with the school’s Hoopcoming festivities. Prospective families interested in learning more about the school and the Murray Innovation Center are able to view the new space during weekly Tuesday Tours beginning this month. For more information, visit mtparanschool.com/experience or call 770-578-0182.


The morning’s dedication ceremony included remarks presented by MPCS Head of School Dr. Tim Wiens, MPCS Assistant Head of School and Head of Upper School Tawanna Rusk, Imagine Tomorrow Capital Campaign Co-Chair David Bottoms, and MPCS Chief Development Officer Jennifer New. Dignitaries in attendance included Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Mason and former Head of School Dr. David Tilley.


The ribbon-cutting ceremony included a spark of student innovation: one of the high school Eagle Robotics robots was programmed with special coding by MPCS senior Steven Baker to officially deliver the ceremonial scissors to Joe McDonald and Kelly (Rowland) Boudreau, Murray Foundation, for the event. The two-time State-championship winning Eagle Robotics program has consistently been involved with the Murray Innovation Center project. During the launch of the public phase of the capital campaign, a student-directed robot participated in the unveiling of the building’s design plans. Now, the MIC offers a dedicated robotics field within the new maker space room.


Following the dedication and ribbon-cutting, attendees were invited to tour the building, which includes a digital design lab and a fabrication lab, a collegiate-style technology-enhanced classroom, two new science labs, high school administrative offices and additional classroom and gathering spaces.

Notably, the Murray Innovation Center now offers a permanent storefront for the Roost Coffee Co., a cafe run entirely by the MPCS high school entrepreneurship classes. The class and cafe is a result of student fireside chat “dreaming” sessions during the MIC building’s planning phase. Zachary Fors ‘21 and fellow classmates drafted a business plan, borrowed funds from the high school administration, and launched the coffee shop in the fall of 2019. The permanent home for the Roost is now housed in the Graham Commons, supported by a gift from the Graham Family Foundation. Because of this student-led venture, MPCS has since added and refined course programming in personal finance, business management, marketing, and entrepreneurship.


Mount Paran Christian School is thankful to all who have supported the Murray Innovation Center through the generous sharing of ideas, gifts, and prayers. It is our hope and prayer that the new space will be used to glorify Christ in the decades to come.


About the Spaces within the Murray Innovation Center

The Graham Commons is an open space for students to connect in a community setting. The multi-use space will be available for classes, meetings, and events, with lounge and study areas. The Graham Commons takes full advantage of natural light and views of Lake McDonald on campus, with an architectural cross focal feature on the main window. The Graham Commons also provides indoor/outdoor cafe seating for the Roost.


The Roost Coffee Co. is home to the student-run MPCS coffee company, in partnership with MPCS alumni-owned Apotheos Roastery in Kennesaw. “Brewed with a Purpose,” the Roost offers a refrigeration counter for food display, Bunn brewer, kitchen prep, and point of sale counter with separate pickup area. The new space fully equips the high school entrepreneurship classes with tools designed for business instruction.


Students were heavily involved in the design process and were passionate about bringing attention to God’s creation and the school’s picturesque campus, as well as including spaces for building community. An outdoor quad achieves both goals with a built-in hardscape amphitheater seating for classes and events. The collegiate-style quad also offers convenient proximity to the Graham Commons, the Roost, and Dozier Hall.


The digital lab is designed as a space to inspire students through collaborative instruction and creation of innovative ideas to be explored in the maker space and fabrication lab. The state-of-the-art room is outfitted with dual monitor design stations for CAD and CAM design work for engineering, business, and computer science courses.


The maker space is a STEAM classroom for tinkering and exploring the mechanics of ideas generated in the digital lab. Equipment allows for low-dust prototyping with electronics/soldering workstations, 3D printers, a laser cutter/engraver, and a desktop CNC milling machine, in addition to the dedicated area for the Eagle Robotics field.


The fabrication lab provides the space for the final step in the engineering design process, where students finalize the construction of ideas. This room includes equipment and materials necessary to build a final product, such as a CNC router for computer-controlled wood cutting and carving and an array of additional power tools for manufacturing work in wood, foam, plastic, and metal with dedicated dust collection.


The new science labs offer improved layouts for student experiences in every STEAM discipline; a lab prep room for safe and necessary storage for chemicals, lab materials and glassware; fume hoods for the safe ventilation of chemicals; flexible furniture for the easy transition from classroom to lab space; and blackout shades for optics experiments (lenses, mirrors, spectra, lasers).


The T.E.A.L. classroom (“Technology Enhanced Active Learning”) is modeled in the collegiate style with five A/V screens and collaborative group tables/seating. Additional new classroom spaces are designed to accommodate any discipline with flexible seating and arrangement.

A seminar room provides a quiet space for student study, prayer, and discipleship, and is home to the Paige Johnson Devotional Library, named in honor of MPCS Cheer Coach Paige Johnson who has brought home 10 consecutive State Championships. Study nooks and lounges abound throughout the new space, including a laptop bar with device charging stations. A glass bridge connects the Murray Innovation Center with Dozier Hall, the pre-existing high school building.


About Mount Paran Christian School

Mount Paran Christian School, the largest private Christian school in Cobb County, is a non-denominational, college-preparatory school for students in preschool age three through grade 12. MPCS is committed to excellence in academics, award-winning arts, and championship athletics, all within a Christian environment with small class sizes. Founded in 1976, MPCS is fully accredited (SAIS/Cognia) and located near Kennesaw Mountain on a 68-acre collegiate-like campus. Providing academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment, MPCS unites with home and church to prepare servant-leaders to honor God, love others, and walk in truth.


About the Stuart and Eulene Murray Foundation

In addition to love and respect for the land, the Murrays also shared a strong support of education and the arts. The Stuart and Eulene Murray Foundation was formed in 1991 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding for the arts, education, and human services. While managing the Foundation for many years, the Murray’s nephew, Joe McDonald, and their late granddaughter, Marilyn Rowland, became close friends of MPCS, supporting the school’s growth and mission. In 2007, while under Joe and Marilyn’s leadership, the Foundation awarded Mount Paran Christian School a generous grant, allowing for the purchase of what is now the Murray Arts Center. Again in 2014, the Foundation pledged the lead gift for the future high school addition and partnered with the school as plans evolved for the Murray Innovation Center. Mount Paran Christian School is honored to continue the legacy of the Murray family and committed to continuing the stewardship of this land.


About the Murray Family Farm
Stuart married Eulene Holmes in 1936 and became a “gentleman farmer.” In the early 1940s, Stuart Murray purchased 750 acres from D.W. McEachern. The Murrays lovingly tended to and shared the beauty of this property with others for more than 50 years. A six-acre lake was constructed here about the same time Mr. Murray had a North Carolina cabin moved onto the property in 1949. Cattle farming followed, as well as much-loved weekends of entertaining family and friends on the farm.


Following the deaths of the Murrays, 68 acres of the farm were sold to Mount Paran Christian School. It is fitting that the land they cherished has evolved into a community of faith and learning, where children will flourish for generations to come.


About the Graham Family Foundation
“God does not give you a dream without also the ability to achieve it,” says Eva Graham, innovator, entrepreneur, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Despite a lack of resources, limited experience, and the demands of motherhood, Eva combined hard work, a positive attitude, and a desire to help others and developed NIOXIN in 1987. The development of her company was an act of servant leadership – seeing a need, helping people with fine and thinning hair restore their confidence, and then innovating to determine a solution. The company grew to become one of the top-selling brands in the professional beauty industry.


Building the business has been a family affair. In the early days, Eva’s three children, Mark, Brian, and Dianna, filled and sealed product bottles by hand in their home kitchen. While studying accounting in college, Mark helped his mother with the financial side, establishing a ledger and tracking cash flow. Business success skyrocketed in 2000, with Eva’s children still deeply involved in the company. Brian took the helm as CEO, Mark served as Vice Chairman and ran the family business, and Diana did the accounting. In 2008, NIOXIN was sold to Procter & Gamble. Brian stayed on with P&G to run the product line, which is sold internationally in salons across 40 countries and which generously donates products to cancer patients.

Eva’s generosity and guidance has allowed NIOXIN to extend a helping hand to many local, national, and international charities. She also passed on her charitable heart to her children. Diana serves as a Director of the Graham Family Foundation and oversees much of their work with CHOA and House of Grace in Thailand. Mark is the manager of the Graham Family Office and is also a Director in the Graham Family Foundation. Mark and his wife Nikki are parents to two MPCS students. An active servant to his community, Mark has helped MPCS raise more than $25 million by serving on the capital campaign committee.

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