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Cornerstone students meet goal to buy South Park school

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
On Friday, May 30, 2014, in South Park, the students and faculty of Cornerstone Christian Preparatory Academy pose on what will be the stage of the school's upcoming play, 'Esther: The Musical.' The play is part of the school's fundraising efforts to purchase their school building from the South Park School District. The 39 students of the school have raised $65,000 as of May 29, toward their goal of $105,000. The play, which will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 5 and 6, will also raise fund's for the Academy's efforts.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
On Friday, May 30, 2014, in South Park, the students and faculty of Cornerstone Christian Preparatory Academy pose on what will be the stage of the school's upcoming play, 'Esther: The Musical.' The play is part of the school's fundraising efforts to purchase their school building from the South Park School District. The 39 students of the school have raised $65,000 as of May 29, toward their goal of $105,000. The play, which will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 5 and 6, will also raise fund's for the Academy's efforts.

As students from Cornerstone Christian Preparatory neared Monday's deadline to buy their school building from the South Park School District, Executive Director Cindi McCall had faith that her school's supporters would come through.

“We knew it was happening. A few of us were saying that it would for days,” McCall said of the tiny private school's staff. “It was so much fun to watch the students, though they just didn't know what they would do if it didn't happen.”

In the last eight hours of a $105,000 fundraiser on Monday on youcaring.com, students closed a $20,000 gap to slightly surpass its goal, bringing in $108,500 for the small religious school.

Principal Brandon McCall was supervising practice for the school's play at South Hills Bible Chapel when he learned the campaign had met its goal.

“The staff, the students were erupting in applause, jumping up and down, hugging each other. It was like something out of a movie,” he said.

Cornerstone had been leasing the former Stewart School on Brownsville Road in South Park for the last two years, and the lease was about to expire. Rather than negotiate another extension with the school district, the staff met with students several months ago and challenged them to lead the fundraiser by sending out letters to potential donors and making phone calls.

That day, the 39 students kicked off the fundraiser by kneeling to pray, said Dom Porcari of South Fayette, a rising junior. When Principal McCall announced their success Monday, they fell to their knees to pray again.

“We ended on our knees, praying, thanking God,” Porcari said. “We were dressed as kings and queens for the play, and a lot of us felt like kings and queens that day.”

Many students and their families contributed to the campaign, with some students sacrificing their paychecks from after-school jobs, Cindi McCall said.

“I had a little bit of savings I thought I should put in,” said Bobby Keicher, a rising junior from Bethel Park. “The things I would spend it on won't last long, but this school is going to be around a long time.”

Cornerstone's leaders are working with the school district to set a date for closing on the sale of the property.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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