Wielding a sledgehammer, several Lancaster Mennonite School students took the first swings at creating the school’s new residence hall Tuesday, Sept 2.

LMS held a special block-breaking ceremony to mark the start of the school’s latest facilities project at its Lancaster Campus, 2176 Lincoln Highway East. The new residence hall will be in the second floor of the 2160 building, which is partially owned by LMS and located between the Lancaster Campus and Route 30.

Current students, faculty, staff and project donors gathered at the 2160 building Tuesday morning to celebrate and thank those who helped raise the $500,000 needed to start the project. Along with gifts from many gracious donors, the residence hall project was funded through efforts by students, including the high school’s annual Student Council Mini-Golf Tournament, an international meal held by current residence hall students and a class gift from the Class of 2014 toward the purchase of furniture for the residence hall’s great room.

The total renovation, including furnishing, will cost $1.8 million. Part of that will be paid through student residence hall fees during a 15-year time period. The facility will include a great room, music practice room, study rooms and an updated security system that focuses on student safety. The students that will stay in the residence hall come from other area areas of Pennsylvania, surrounding states and other countries.

Many of the current residence hall students watched as the project began Tuesday, including six students who got the chance to actually break some of the bricks of the building. The project is expected to be completed and ready for student use by January.