DICKINSON, N.D. - Thomas Irwin has been at Hope Christian Academy since he was six-years-old.
"It's a pretty tight knit community. You just get to know everybody around you, and you get to create better relationships with your teachers too," says Irwin.
A year before he makes the move to college, his school moved into a new building.
"Compared to the old one, getting to be as compact as we are now without having to hike all over the building and be in the way, and having to split rooms with the church and stuff. It's nice having our own space without being in everyone else's way," says Irwin.
The 27,000 square foot building houses grades K-12.
Each grade now has its own classroom, and each student has his or her own locker.
"Now we have more technology. We have more space for a library, bigger library than we had before, little closet before, big gymnasium where kids can play," says Courtney Williams, first grade teacher, Dean of Elementary Education.
The school has grown from about 60 to almost 130 students in five years. The faculty attributes this to the new building.
"Now that we're able to split classes, we're able to have double the amount of students," says Williams.
The building cost $4 million, but the school is debt free.
"We don't owe anything on the building. So the church leadership, it was their plan from the beginning to be patient, to not spend any money that we didn't have the cash for. We partnered with community leaders, school parents," says Shane Bradley, school administrator.
Hope Christian Academy graduated its first senior class last year.