September 7, 2012

Exciting changes mark new era for Bishop Chatard

An aerial photograph shows the new $2.9 million athletic complex that was recently created at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. The new multi-sports stadium, baseball field and softball field were funded by the school’s Golden Opportunities Capital Campaign that also increased the school’s endowments for tuition assistance and teacher compensation, and upgraded the school’s classrooms, science labs and technology system. (Submitted photo)

An aerial photograph shows the new $2.9 million athletic complex that was recently created at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. The new multi-sports stadium, baseball field and softball field were funded by the school’s Golden Opportunities Capital Campaign that also increased the school’s endowments for tuition assistance and teacher compensation, and upgraded the school’s classrooms, science labs and technology system. (Submitted photo) Click for a larger version.

By John Shaughnessy

For Bill Sahm, it was a special moment when all the planning, hard work and generosity of a Catholic school community came together to show the promise of the present and the hope for the future.

As the president of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, Sahm left his office one afternoon in mid-August and walked toward the school’s new $2.9 million athletic complex.

Looking across one athletic field, he saw the girls’ soccer team practicing in one area, the boys’ freshman football team doing drills in another area, and about 75 grade school students participating in a football camp run by Catholic Youth Organization coaches from nearby Christ the King Parish. Turning toward the first ever stadium at the Indianapolis North Deanery interparochial high school, he watched the varsity football team practice.

Moments later, Sahm walked back toward the academic building, which also benefited from the school’s Golden Opportunities Capital Campaign that brought in more than $5 million in donations.

Improvements totaling $850,000 were made to the school’s technology system, classrooms and science labs, while $1.25 million was split between endowments for tuition assistance and teacher compensation.

“I’m excited for our students, the CYO students and our future students who will benefit from all the academic and athletic improvements we’ve made,” Sahm says.

“Everything we did started from the need to make our school affordable for all who desire a Bishop Chatard Catholic education, the need to more appropriately and justly compensate our teachers, and the need to have an academic and extracurricular environment that mirrored the quality of the experience that our students were having.”

The improvements have drawn rave reviews from members of the school community.

“It’s better than I ever dreamed it would be, and I had big dreams,” says Ed Fillenwarth Jr., a former board member of Bishop Chatard who has had six of his seven children graduate from the school and now has five grandchildren attend there.

“I love the technology advances,” says Ben Reilly, a health teacher, facilities manager and head coach of the girls’ soccer team at the school. “Teachers have more tools they can use now. The students love the changes. Overall, it’s really positive for us.”

As a student, senior Nicole Lehrman of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis appreciates how the improvements add another dimension to the quality of the school.

“One of the great assets Chatard has is a great student-teacher relationship,” Nicole says. “It’s easier to learn when teachers relate to us. The people are always the most important part. Although the physical aspects of Chatard are changing, it will always be Chatard. I love Chatard.”

Nearly 2,500 people attended a football scrimmage that marked the opening of the school’s stadium on Aug. 10. Eight days later, the school officially opened the athletic complex with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and girls’ varsity soccer game.

The complex also features a new turf baseball field, softball field and track.

“We haven’t had a track meet here in more than 25 years,” Sahm says. “The boys’ and girls’ track teams both won the City Championship last year. A lot of times for practice they ran up and down the front yard of the school. We’ll also be the host of this year’s girls’ sectional in soccer, and we have the baseball sectional here next year. We’ve never had a sectional before.”

The athletic facilities will also be used for several CYO sports, including football, softball, baseball, cross country and track.

While attention has focused on the athletic facilities, Sahm also stressed the updates that were made in the school’s technology.

“We have a robust wireless network with new servers, and all the equipment necessary to have 750 students and 100 faculty and staff to be on the network at the same time,” he says. “The technology has allowed us to enhance the engagement of the students in a learning environment at a level we could only dream of a few years ago.”

Even with his excitement about the results from the capital campaign that was started in 2011—the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening—Sahm noted that those improvements were just the first phase of the master plan.

A new capital campaign will be launched soon. A key part of that focus will be a new building that will house a 250-seat chapel and a media/student center.

“We hope that what we’ve done gives all North Deanery parishioners pride in their high school,” Sahm says. “We believe that the next generation of families who desire a Bishop Chatard Catholic education will be able to make that dream a reality—from an affordability standpoint and a quality of experience standpoint.”
 

(Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis has also recently made significant improvements to its campus that will benefit its students and grade school students who participate in CYO sports in the Indianapolis West Deanery of the archdiocese. The improvements at Cardinal Ritter will be featured in a future story in The Criterion.)

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