The Davis Academy celebrated the next stage in its physical development Friday morning, Feb. 19, with a double dose of shoveling dirt.

First, an all-school Kabbalat Shabbat service, after multiple references to the additions planned to the nation’s largest Reform day school under its $7.5 million capital campaign, culminated in Head of School Amy Shafron digging into a pile of dirt on the gym floor next to Davis board of trustees President Debbie Kurzweil and capital campaign co-chairs Jon Leven, Sam Tuck and Mara Berman.

Second, after a brief reception for donors and Sandy Springs leaders, a dozen shovels moved some dirt outside the media center in front of a bobcat ready to get to work next week.

Under the expansion planned by Kyle Epstein, who also was the architect for the existing facilities on the Davis Lower School and Middle School campuses, a 600-seat performing arts center will be built on the site behind the media center. The project also includes a kosher kitchen and dining hall, flexible learning spaces, and a spiritual and communal gathering space.

Shafron said it is the fourth expansion for Davis, which started in 1992 in the basement of the Junior Achievement building on Abernathy Road.

“Together, we are building a sacred space for our community,” Shafron told more than 60 people gathered for the reception, whom she thanked for giving the project their time, energy and generosity. “Our facilities must be as outstanding as our offerings.”

She offered special thanks to the capital campaign’s honorary co-chairs, longtime benefactors Ann and Jay Davis, Dulcy and Jerry Rosenberg, and Carole and Sid Kirschner.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, joined by City Council member Andy Bauman, praised the school for showing dedication to the arts by building the auditorium — and for not overlooking the need to feed the body as well as the soul by adding the dining hall.