New construction, improvements to facilities and an enhanced focus on Catholic identity and curriculum are bringing about an enhanced experienced for students enrolled in Diocesan high schools.
From new modern classrooms to state-of-the art auditoriums and revitalized athletic facilities, the work at the high schools – whether completed or ongoing – is a sign of their vitality and their investment in the lives of students.
With a number of capital campaigns, renovation projects and upgrades taking place, the staff of The Catholic Witness reached out to the Diocesan high schools over the past several weeks to reveal what’s been completed and to take a look at what’s on the horizon.
Advancing the Mission
Three high schools are currently in the midst of successful capital campaigns that have already transformed the facilities and grounds: Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Lancaster Catholic High School, and York Catholic Middle & High School.
At Trinity High School in Camp Hill, the success of the “Faith in Our Future” capital campaign burst forth with a remodeled gymnasium with new bleachers and a freshly waxed floor; synthetic turf on a regulation-size COBO Field, a resurfaced track and repaired tennis courts; and completion of the third of four sections of new façade.
“Our athletics programs that shared the practice field were not getting as much time because they were all sharing. With the new field, it frees up space,” said Jordan Hill, Director of Advancement and head football coach.
Eric Kindler, Athletic Director, expressed gratitude for local parishes and teams who shared their facilities with Trinity’s teams for practice during the renovations.
“Good Shepherd in Camp Hill has been fantastic. Father (Neil) Sullivan opened the former school building to our football team. Father has been fantastic, as well as Father (Robert) Yohe at Our Lady of Lourdes in Enola. We are so appreciative to these pastors. Even our friends in the public school, the Camp Hill School District, and Hampden Township have been a great help with game play,” Kindler said.
The school’s largest venture in the $8.5 million capital campaign is a state-of-the-art auditorium, where work began in earnest in June toward an expected completion by Christmas. The school community is eager for Masses, assemblies and fine arts performances in the new space.
“The improvements from the capital campaign will touch every part of this school. We are thrilled to do something that will touch every student at Trinity,” said John Cominsky, principal. “The campaign really started a decade ago. However, since 2019, we have seen tremendous momentum…. People from all generations have helped us.”
“The future is looking very bright,” Kindler said. “The school has a mission to advance the mission of the Church.”
Lancaster Catholic High School is progressing with its capital campaign – “Cherish, Love, Honor.” The $12 million project includes a state-of-the-art STEM Innovation Center, which was unveiled last year, and the creation of a new auditorium, student commons and college-style cafeteria.
“We are extremely grateful to the donors and benefactors who have contributed to the capital campaign as we chart the course for our students,” said Kevin Carver, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communication.
With the opening of the STEM center last fall, Lancaster Catholic was anticipating work to begin this past summer on the next phase, however supply-chain delays are postponing that effort until next year.
Still, the school didn’t rest on its laurels over the summer months.
“In anticipation of the next phase, we’ve completed some behind-the-scenes work this summer with the installation of a new boiler and sprinklers, and we moved some classrooms in preparation for next summer’s work,” Carver said. “The student commons will be constructed next summer, and we will follow that up with the construction of a new auditorium. In the meantime, we continue to raise funds to meet our campaign goal.”
York Catholic Middle & High School completed a phase of its “Grow Today, Impact Tomorrow” capital campaign as students returned to class this year, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing on August 29.
The project converted and modernized the former Brady Science Hall with 19 air-conditioned classrooms, science labs, a central office and restrooms. The school also renovated the stadium with new bleachers and a press box.
The $8 million campaign also included the installation of a turf field, elevator, student center and relocation of the school chapel, which were completed in Phase I.
“This place is magical. It truly is wonderful to see this place come together over the summer,” Heather Hoffman, Middle School Director, told those gathered at the August 29 blessing. “I want to thank all the people who made this happen.”
Kevin Bankos, Director of Buildings and Operations, told The Witness, “We have done a number of projects in recent years and this was the most challenging, but yet the smoothest of all because our architects and builders know the building and were familiar with the structure to get it done in such a short time. That was the challenge, to get this done over the summer – and we did,” Bankos said.
“You can build anything if you have people willing to give, and we do. Whether it be the $10 dollar donor or the seven-figure donor, they all matter and that is where it all starts. We just cannot thank everybody enough to giving to York Catholic,” he said.
Enhancements and Investments
“Stewardship,” “Catholic identity” and “investments in the future” are common themes in our high schools, whether they’re in the midst of capital campaigns or addressing maintenance and upkeep.
Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown unveiled upgrades to its cafeteria and gymnasium as students returned this year. Cafeteria improvements, underwritten by a benefactor, yield a brighter and more sociable environment from new paint, renovated flooring, and LED lights. Soon, the space will also include circular tables and booths to replace the current long rows of tables and chairs.
“The idea is to make the space more convivial. There was a need for us to have an update that reflects how people inhabit space now,” said principal William Lippe. “We held a design contest for it to let the students get involved in what they wanted to see.”
Improvements to the gymnasium are the result of a fundraising effort, and feature LED lighting and a new sound system – which have resulted in evenly-distributed lighting and sound across what is now a brighter and refreshed space for sporting events and ceremonies.
“There is more work to be done, including the replacement of ceiling tiles and new paint, but already there is an improved difference,” Lippe said. “These efforts are ways in which we can enhance student experience and be an attractive school for potential students.”
Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Coal Township embarked on various projects for facility improvements this summer. They included the replacement of a freezer for the cafeteria, the replacement of a sewer line and drainage pipe in the area of the parking lot, new locks on several doors, and some work on the roof. The school also installed several new faucets and toilets in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms.
“We had planned to remodel the girls bathroom this coming summer, however, stalls we needed for the bathrooms were on back order for seven months so that project could not be completed,” said Sister Maureen Donati, IHM, principal. “We also completely stripped and waxed our gym floor, but that is a yearly project. We still have the same gym floor since 1959, and it looks amazing! Next summer we’re hoping our big project will be the repaving of our school parking lot.”
Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg is the newest high school building in the Diocese, having opened its doors in 2013. While school officials report no projects relative to the facility, Bishop McDevitt continues its mission of “serving students of diverse intellectual, socio-economic and religious backgrounds” and nurturing the whole student “by creating a challenging academic environment rooted in Gospel values.”
For information on Catholic schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg, visit www.gocatholicschools.org.
(Photos by Chris Heisey and Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness. Lancaster Catholic renderings courtesy of the school.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness