Freire Charter now has a home facility to host sporting events.

Freire celebrates new athletic facility, home-court advantage

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Freire Charter now has a home facility to host sporting events.

Freire Charter now has a home facility to host sporting events.

It felt like a carnival on 14th Street as Wilmington’s Freire Charter School unveiled its $5.3 million athletic center to the public Wednesday night.

Students lined up at the popcorn and cotton candy stands as the school’s band, cheerleaders, basketball team and dancers thundered through the gym to applause from families, education leaders and government officials.

Andrea Robinson, a senior and co-president of student government, said the new space will benefit the mental and physical health of students, and allow families to join together to show school spirit. 

The current building was purchased by the school in July 2022, and just a few months after, Freire launched its capital campaign to raise funds for the gym.

The Longwood Foundation gave a notable $1.375 million grant, and other contributors include the Sonecha Family Foundation, Welfare Foundation, WSFS CARES Foundation, The Laffey-McHugh Foundation, Crestlea Foundation and many others.

The Freire project is one of several in the state in recent memory: Ursuline Academy was given $5 million for its gym upgrades, Newark Charter built a stadium as part of its capping off of a 21-year expansion, the Salesianum School received $10 million for a sports complex and more.

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Construction began on March 30, 2023, and most of the progress was made that summer. The athletic center was fully completed in January.

The first event was a boys basketball game on Jan. 23, which Freire won.

The man of the hour seemed to be David Singleton, secretary of the school board. 

Head of School Madeline Weckel choked up when thanking Singleton for his commitment to the school’s children.

Singleton pushed for and led the project, all while staying under budget. 

The boys basketball team huddled around him in camaraderie and appreciation, and Weckel announced the new space will be called the “David W. Singleton Athletic Center.”

Everyone that attended the ribbon-cutting was gifted a piece of the hardwood on their way out. 

 Zion Dorsey, a sophomore, said the facility gives him and his peers a new sense of pride to be a Freire Dragon. 

Freire serves one of the highest populations of low-income students among Delaware high schools, and it also accepts 100% of applicants. 

In addition to benefiting the 430 students, athletes on the volleyball and basketball teams will no longer need to travel to a practice gym and will now have a home-court advantage. 

The new facility has showers, laundry facilities, and a washer/dryer that will not just benefit the sports teams, but also allow the school to meet the needs of students experiencing housing insecurity.

“Since we opened our doors in 2015, our community has dreamt of this day,” Weckel said, “Not only does this offer expanded opportunities for physical fitness, education, a space for our students to engage in sports, it also serves as a central gathering place for our entire community to celebrate and support one another.”

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