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Catholic Central raises $7M for buildings

Catholic Central Schools has exceeded its $5 million fundraising goal and will build a new chapel, as well as completing renovations and an addition on its East High Street campus.

The school’s fundraising campaign had stalled at $4.2 million in the fall but two $1 million, anonymous donations in early 2013 and several other smaller contributions pushed it over the goal to $7 million, President Kenith Britt said.

Catholic Central is Clark and Champaign counties’ only Catholic education system, with an enrollment of about 840 students.

“Our primary mission is to change the lives of our children and this is only a vehicle to allow us to accomplish that and I think that our donors see that,” said Britt. “It’s not about buildings. It’s about a new vision to support long-term sustainability for the school by bringing more students, and eventually all students, to a single campus to allow us to become more effective and more viable long-term.”

It plans to use the money for about $1 million of renovations at the junior/senior high school and a $4 million, three-story addition that will include 15 classrooms, conference rooms for teachers and a multi-purpose room for elementary school students.

Kapp Construction has been hired as the construction manager and Stephen Sharp of McCall-Sharp Architecture is the architect.

The investment in building represents the school’s commitment to the city of Springfield, Britt said. The school could have gone outside the city but chose to stay.

“The chapel will send that message, or I hope it will send the message, that there’s a brighter future for Catholic Central and there’s a brighter future for Springfield,” he said.

The East High Street campus, where seventh through 12th graders currently attend, will then house third through 12th grade. Either the North Limestone Street or Lagonda Avenue campus will become home to pre-kindergarten through second grade; the other campus will close.

Consolidating the campuses will allow for more collaboration between teachers of different grade levels, student mentorships and foreign languages for elementary students, Britt said.

“Catholic Central’s a good school but we’re only at the beginning of how effective we can be,” he said.

Joy Galluch is a parent of four Catholic Central students, with children attending each of the three campuses right now.

“The things that’s most exciting is that we get to have the community of learners all together in one place,” she said. “That just makes it so much easier for collaborative teaching, for us to celebrate Mass, for us to be one community together.”

The school expects to ask the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for approval of the project in May.

“If they approve the project, we will break ground in early June with a final completion date for the construction in the fall of 2014,” Britt said.

The addition will be built behind the current school while the chapel will be at the front. Having the chapel in the front sends a visual message to the community, Britt said.

“As you drive by East High Street now and you look at the school, it’s not reflective of who we are,” he said. “Our primary mission is a faith-based education. It sends a strong message, I think, to everyone that this is why we exist. We shouldn’t apologize for it, we should embrace it.”

Catholic Central will continue to serve students of all faiths.

About 370 donors contributed to the campaign, said Bridget Doane, the school’s director of communications and alumni relations.

“I really feel like a lot of people saw the value in it and were moved to make it happen,” she said.

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