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Making Space for Faith and Science at Roger Bacon

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by Lisa Fletcher

Preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2027, Roger Bacon Catholic High School looks toward the future. With more than 520 students, the Cincinnati coed high school is preparing for the next century through its We are the Good Soil Capital Campaign, which includes a new atrium with a chapel and administration offices, as well as a dedicated STEM classroom.

“As we prepare for the next century, it is important that our efforts underscore and reinforce who we are—a Franciscan, Catholic high school,” said Steven Schad, president of Roger Bacon. “As we lay the foundation for the next 100 years, being Catholic has never been more important.”

The new chapel, to be completed in August of 2026, will support the daily efforts of Roger Bacon’s Spiritual Life Program, according to Schad.

“In addition to enhancing the sacramental life of the community, the chapel will be the spiritual center of the school,” he said.

It will hold 160-180 students, and will capture Roger Bacon’s history through important artifacts and a reliquary holding relics from over 70 saints, including Gospel writers, apostles, Franciscans and martyrs, Schad explained. Adorned with stained-glass windows honoring the school’s Franciscan heritage, the chapel will be a holy place for the school community to encounter the Catholic faith.

Alumni can also use the chapel for celebrations of the sacraments, reunions and monthly Masses. “This chapel will be a community asset for past, present and future [alumni],” Schad said.

The school’s Fine Arts Center (FAC) has been serving spiritual-related space needs, including all-school Masses. Due to seating capacity, school Masses will still be in the FAC; however, a dedicated chapel will provide the space for spiritual life activities without competing for time in a heavily-used center.

The project’s name of “Good Soil” was taken from the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Matthew.

“Statistics tell us that when high school students graduate, the majority will fall away from their faith,” Schad said. “These young men and women are the ‘seed.’ As young adults, many will seek out their faith again once their circle of responsibility grows with work, marriage and children. This is where their experiences at Roger Bacon become so important. The lessons learned here— the values and morals taught and demonstrated—these are vital pieces of the ‘good soil’ that is Roger Bacon.”

“We do not know when the seed will be planted, but we strive to provide the good soil to give the seed every opportunity to flourish and bloom when the opportunity occurs,” he continued.

A chapel, according to Schad, will be a vital element of this good soil. “We pray that if and when our alums find themselves searching for their faith in the future, their experiences at Roger Bacon will help lead them back to a vibrant faith-filled life,” he said.

Roger Bacon junior Joshua Becker said he is excited about the new chapel’s completion. “A dedicated chapel will be extremely beneficial to Roger Bacon, as it will provide a space for reflecting, growing in faith and spending time in the presence of God,” Barker said.

And the new atrium’s construction brings the added benefit of more classroom space, in part, to grow their STEM program. According to Schad, a large and versatile classroom will be built to support tech-heavy instruction.

While the new STEM room will accommodate traditional lecture-style teaching, it will incorporate several design considerations specifically for a STEM class, including:

  • Oversized classroom that provides space for collaborative learning
  • Lightweight mobile furniture (i.e., wheeled) to permit flexible student configurations
  • Technology that includes interactive whiteboards, monitors and displays; 3-D printers; tablets and computers; and virtual reality devices

Schad believes that investing in STEM is vital for the students. “An education in STEM promotes and develops critical thinking, increases scientific and mathematical literacy [and] capability, inspires learning, fosters creativity and sets the foundation for the next generation of problem solvers.”

The atrium’s construction is scheduled to begin in March of 2025, and the STEM classroom’s completion is expected for the 2026-2027 school year.

This article appeared in the April 2024 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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