CHARLESTON—A packed house rose to its feet and applauded the completion of Charleston Catholic School’s new building during the dedication Mass and blessing held Feb. 11 in Sacred Heart Church.
One of the longest rounds of applause was given to Fred McKay, principal, who was praised by Mayor Joseph P. Riley for his dedication to the project.
Ronnie Richter, chair of the school’s capital campaign committee, thanked everyone involved for their perseverance, noting that the project came together over the course of 10 years and the guidance and support of two bishops.
Plans to expand Charleston Catholic began under the late Bishop David B. Thompson, who secured a $1 million donation in 2004, Richter said. The project was put on hold until 2009, when supporters took it up again with fresh resolve and the blessing of newly appointed Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who has been described as a champion of education.
Cold, rainy weather forced the cancellation of some of the planned festivities at the dedication, but it didn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of the crowd. After Mass, people wandered the halls and rooms of the new building, exclaiming over the science room and pausing to hear the band students play up-tempo songs in their new space.
An unusually wet winter also delayed completion of the project, McKay said, noting that a few details needed to be finished in the science lab and other areas. He said all the classrooms would be organized and ready to go by Feb. 18, when students return from a long weekend.
The total cost of the project was close to $2.4 million and includes office space, art and music rooms, a science lab, a roof-top plaza for educational use, and new classrooms for sixth- through eighth-graders. The upper-grade students have been housed at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist community center while construction was underway, and everyone is excited to have the whole school under one roof again.
“I’m really looking forward to having everyone back together and being like a family again,” said Grace Barnes, a fifth-grader.
Funding for the project also included converting space in the existing building into a faculty work area and breakroom, a renovated kitchen, and storage area, plus elevators, handicapped ramps, and additional restrooms.
Students will also be able to enjoy an outdoor basketball court and revamped playground.