By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
SEYMOUR — Cold weather, including some snow flurries and sleet, failed to chill the atmosphere at Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy on April 15.
Several hundred people braved the weather to attend the dedication of the Polly Enix Tibbetts Building, the first new construction on the HCBA (also known as The King’s Academy) campus since the 1960s.
The debt-free, 18,000-square-foot facility is a multi-purpose building which provides recreational space as well as additional classroom space, said Walter Grubb, president and headmaster. “Adding 18,000 square feet of usable space would bless any school,” Grubb observed.
“We are thrilled to open two more classrooms and a board room in the Tibbetts Building. And, the recreational space is second to none,” he observed.
The new building grew out of the academy’s “Celebrating Our Past — TOGETHER — Building our Future” capital campaign, Grubb noted.
The president observed that as enrollment grew steadily over the past 20 years, developing the school’s physical plant became imperative.
“We launched a capital campaign in 2011 to raise funds for new construction. Today, we praise God for providing this new facility that will be used daily in a variety of ways,” Grubb said.
He acknowledged that the multi-purpose building was not one of the original goals of the campaign, but it still incorporated “some of the classroom space we critically need, and provides recreational space that some of our donors are passionate about.”
Grubb observed that building the facility debt-free “is especially amazing.”
He noted construction costs were paid by the generous donations of alumni, parents, employees, grandparents, and others.
The total cost of the new facility is around $1.2 million, Grubb said.
One of the major donors for the building was Polly Enix Tibbetts, a 1945 graduate of the academy.
Orphaned as a child, she attended the academy with her sister, Alta, while her other four siblings lived in various parts of the country.
Tibbetts later married her husband, Linton Tibbetts, and moved to Florida where they purchased a lumber company that they later sold to Home Depot.
During the dedication ceremony, Tibbetts acknowledged that she came to Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy with nothing. “But I left with memories and abilities that served me for life,” said HCBA’s 2013 alumna of the year.
Grubb noted that “Polly Tibbetts is a dear friend and generous supporter of the academy.”
Citing her story, he noted that she had no idea that when she first arrived at the academy that she would “one day be an influential business leader in Florida.
“She has demonstrated a thankful heart as she has given back to this school where she was loved when she needed love most,” he said.
During the ceremony, Grubb announced that the board room in the new building will be named the Alta Enix Hurlston Board Room in honor of Tibbetts’ sister.
Grubb noted that he could not think “of a better kick off to the academy’s future as we continue to grow and seek funds for continued expansion.”
Next on the academy’s list of needs is a math and science building with state-of-the-art laboratories, Grubb said.