Catholic Central sees first major upgrade
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
Students at Catholic Central High School have been attending class in the same building for nearly 60 years. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, they’ll have some new scenery.
The main campus of Catholic Central School includes the junior high and high school. It was built in 1958 and is located on East High Street in Springfield, Ohio. Thanks to a capital campaign that raised more than $6 million, the school has embarked on a major construction and renovation project that will provide a better learning experience for the students, and improve the school’s presence in town.
The crux of the project is a new three-story classroom wing for the high school, a new front entrance and chapel addition, and renovations to the existing facilities.
The building of the new high school wing will allow the old high school section to house elementary students from grades three through six, further consolidating Catholic Central from three sites to two by eliminating the Lagonda campus.
“We’ve got the high school construction taking place right now,” said Peter Dunlap, principal and CEO of Catholic Central. “Next year, for the first day of school the High Street campus is going to be three through 12th grade. Essentially, we’re refurbishing our current high school into an elementary school for third through sixth graders. Our junior high kids are staying put and we’ll have a brand new high school.”
Early childhood education (pre-school through second grade) will remain at the Limestone campus at St. Teresa.
With the consolidation of everyone from third graders to high school seniors to one campus, Dunlap said the school made sure elementary school and high school will be individual learning experiences. The main entrance on East High Street will lead into the Elementary School and chapel. The high school student entrance will be in the back of the building.
“It will be its own separate space all at the same address but with two difference entrances,” he said. “It will be its own unique experience for the high school kids.”
Among the improvements for students will be a new computer lab for the high school, an expanded art room and and expanded space for performing arts. The new performance arts classroom will be in the location of the current chapel once the new chapel is complete. Two elevators will also make the building completely handicapped accessible. Space has been reserved and lines installed for new science labs, but that funding had not yet been secured.
Dunlap was unable to provide details about the new chapel as it was still pending approval in mid-January. Still, he said it would give the school a distinctively Catholic look.
“That will expand our chapel to seating for about 170,” he said. “It will be right in the front and it will really improve our presence in Springfield. Right now we look like a school, but the goal is we want to look like a Catholic school so when you drive down High Street you know there’s a Catholic school here in Springfield.”
Dunlap said the capital campaign, which the school website reports raised $6.3 million, involved donors from all over the country. To keep those donors, and other interested parties, up to date on the project, Catholic Central posts weekly slideshows of construction progress online at www.ccirish.org.
Construction is expected to be completed in mid-July with the certificate of occupancy coming in mid-August.
Catholic Central’s Kindergarten through 12 enrollment is 680 students, including around 200 students enrolled in the high school. The school’s mascot is the Fighting Irish. Located in Springfield, Catholic Central is the second Northern-most school in the 19-county Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
This article originally appeared as the cover story in the February 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.