January 25, 2008

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Building for the future: Improvements add to foundations of high schools

Physical improvements at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis reflect recent efforts at high schools across the archdiocese to make the campuses better for students. Roncalli added a fine arts center. (Submitted photo)

Physical improvements at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis reflect recent efforts at high schools across the archdiocese to make the campuses better for students. Roncalli added a fine arts center. (Submitted photo)

By Bryce Bennett

The landscape of high school always changes—whether it involves the students that walk through the halls, the teachers that serve the students or the buildings that shape the learning experience.

This is no different for the archdiocesan high schools. In order to accommodate the changing needs of today’s world, many schools are improving their facilities to enhance the educational experience for students.

Here is an update of the physical changes and developments involving the archdiocesan high schools:

Bishop Chatard High School

Starting in the summer of 2006 and continuing today, Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis has seen changes on many fronts.

Renovations have been made to the main gymnasium, the cafeteria, the student publications center and several classrooms. The school has also added new lockers, a writing lab and ceiling-mounted projectors.

Still, the biggest improvement to Bishop Chatard has been the addition of a new activity center—which also serves as a second gymnasium—that was completed in the fall. This new facility improves the Indianapolis North Deanery school beyond sports, says Bishop Chatard president William Sahm.

“Our new activity center has significantly improved our fine arts program,” Sahm says. “Our performances will now have a more professional look and feel to them. We can also hold graduation at the school now, which is obviously very important.”

Sahm is also excited about how the new activity center changes the school’s ability to host large, youth-oriented programs.

“With the addition, we’re now able to host the Archdiocesan Youth Rally, which really allows us to [reach] the youth throughout the community,” he says.

As Bishop Chatard moves forward, Sahm is quick to thank the parents, supporters and alumni who made these improvements possible.

“We’re very appreciative of all the donations we received,” Sahm says. “These renovations have truly been a peak Bishop Chatard moment.”

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School

Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis recently set in place plans for the biggest renovation in the school’s 34-year history.

“Our students deserve the facilities and opportunities that our sister schools around the area have,” says Paul Lockard, the school’s president.

Cardinal Ritter has committed to a multi-stage plan that aims to add classroom space, a new chapel and possible improvements to athletic facilities.

The first phase calls for a new wing to be added to the school that will include new classrooms, a new media center, a band room and art suites. At the same time, a new separate chapel that will accommodate about 135 people will be built.

“The chapel is an outward sign of our Catholic identity,” Lockard says.

School officials want to have the groundbreaking for the wing and the chapel started by April. Completion is scheduled for Christmas break, with the hope that students will start using the new facilities during the second semester of the 2008-09 school year.

“I see these improvements continuing our mission of spiritual development for our students,” Lockard says.

Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School

Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison recently completed a total renovation of its library.

“The reaction to the new library has been amazing. Use of the library has increased,” explains Marta Belt, the school’s director of development and marketing.

The project was possible thanks to $2.5 million from anonymous donors.

Some of the money went to Shawe’s main feeder grade school,

Pope John XXIII School in Madison, but the majority went to Shawe to improve technology and the entire look of the library.

The technology improvements include laptop computers for every teacher, and new desktop computers in the library and some classrooms. The changes to the school’s appearance, including new furniture, have been just as extensive.

Belt recognizes the significance of this renovation.

“We’re the smallest high school in the archdiocese so there’s always a tight budget,” Belt says. “But our donors really came through, and none of this would have been possible without them.”

Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School

Vice principal and teacher John Hegarty walks through Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis with pride.

“Last summer, we started a renovation plan that completely remodeled a set of classrooms,” Hegarty says. “The hope is that we are able to continue renovating classrooms over this summer.”

The classroom renovations include air conditioning, new desks, new carpeting, lighting and paneling, and dry-erase boards that replaced chalkboards.

Foreign language teacher Diane Knight, whose classroom was recently remodeled, thinks the renovations have enhanced the learning environment.

“I see students now treating the classroom space in a much more respectful manner,” Knight said. “The students have made the learning environment better for themselves and for myself.”

Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School

President Joan Hurley knew Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville needed renovation.

“Providence High School had not gone through any major renovation project since the school opened in 1951,” Hurley says.

In the past few years, improvements have included renovations to the track-and-field facility, laptop computers for teachers in every classroom, air conditioning in the classrooms, new ceiling panels and lighting for the hallways, and a new performing arts center.

Hurley believes that Providence will continue to succeed because of these renovations, and the generosity of alumni, parents and supporters.

“All things are done in prayer,” Hurley says. “Whatever we do through this school, we do through Our Lady.”

Roncalli High School

Roncalli High School in Indianapolis opened a new fine arts facility in 2006. Roncalli also renovated and added new science labs and improved their football facilities.

“We recently put in new bleachers on the home and visitor sides, doubling capacity,” says the school’s president, Joe Hollowell. “This also has allowed us to let other schools, such as Cardinal Ritter and various CYO football teams, to use the facility.”

Roncalli also is finishing the building of a second gymnasium.

“We were the largest school in Indiana without a second gym,” Hollowell says.

All of these improvements have been the result of a decade-long push to raise money.

“We’ll have raised around $16 million [in] the past 10 years through these improvement projects,” Hollowell says. “The generosity of the alumni, parents and community has been remarkable.”

Seton Catholic High School

The Richmond Catholic Community is in the midst of a major capital campaign to raise money to build a community center that would also be used as a gymnasium by students at Seton Catholic High School. †

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