St. Joseph’s Catholic School shoots for a new gym

GREENVILLE — Jan Carino finally believed it when the earth moved.

Carino has been the athletic director of St. Joseph’s Catholic School for the past eight years. Each fall she labors to schedule practices and home games for six basketball teams (boys and girls middle school, junior varsity and varsity) in rented facilities, and each year she longs for a gymnasium on her own campus.

On Nov. 9, the private Catholic school broke ground for its home court.

“When I saw the first bulldozer moving dirt, then I knew it was really happening,” Carino said. “It’s a dream come true and will make a huge difference to life here.”

The gym — which the coach thinks will improve school spirit and increase attendance at games — will accommodate basketball and volleyball and will serve as a gathering place for large crowds. It will have six basketball hoops and curtained dividers so that separate practices can go on at one time. The school’s development associate, Michelle Newsome, said that the gym will be ready for next fall’s basketball season.

“We hope it might even be ready for the volleyball season,” Newsome said.

The new gym was just one of the capital improvements being celebrated by the school. A brand new middle school wing, built over the summer to accommodate the burgeoning student population of sixth- to eighth-graders, was dedicated and blessed.

The middle school, which was started in response to area demand in 2003, has nearly tripled in size since it opened, according to Newsome.

Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary, home of St. Mary Catholic School, said the SJCS middle school was a godsend for his parish.

“We were at the point where the children of our parishioners could not get into our own school. The waiting list was extensive. The openings of the middle school at St. Joseph’s and the elementary school at Prince of Peace have relieved the pressure,” Father Newman said.

Franciscan Father Patrick Tuttle of St. Anthony of Padua parish blessed the new middle school classrooms, media center and the ground for the new gym.

The chair of Greenville County Council, Butch Kirvin, was one of the 100 or so invited guests who attended the ceremony. He called the Catholic school an asset to Greenville County.

Al Ulle, chair of the SJCS capital campaign, said that the school already has raised $3.6 million, $2.1 million of it in cash, and can easily meet its stated goal of $4 million.

“I’m confident we can achieve $4.5 million,” Ulle said.

Margaret Ann Moon, chair of the school’s board of trustees, presented Ulle with a plaque for his devotion to duty. Ulle volunteers for the work, Moon said.

Headmaster Keith Kiser announced that William Coffey has been appointed the new development officer for St. Joseph’s.

“It was a good day for the school,” said teacher Pauline Bellavance, PhD. “Especially impressive was the number of people who came to the affair.”

The total number of students at both middle and upper schools is about 500, Newsome said. The school presented each attendee with a replica hard hat to commemorate the occasion.