THOUGHTS FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL, DR. JOSEPH VORBACH:
At back to school night last fall, I was excited to share some detail about the capital improvement plans we are pursuing. I shared then that our IHM Sisters were moving to a new Convent on Rochester Street, about a 1/4 mile from the school. This move took place in December and we are now in the process of preparing the original Convent for demolition this coming summer.
Last April, we began a capital campaign to raise critical funding for the exciting work we plan to accomplish by 2020. Specifically, with the at least $4 million we will raise, with support from the Diocese, and with financing, we will:
- Demolish the original convent and replace it with a three story building that features modern and flexible academic space on the two upper floors and a beautiful 180 seat chapel that emerges from the building to face Trinidad Street. The chapel--which is featured in an article published this week in the Arlington Catholic Herald--reflects inspiration that our architectural team took from studying Church architecture in Ireland, the birthplace of our namesake Denis J. O'Connell.
- Replace the breezeways connecting the main wing and Trinidad wings with a new atrium style main entrance that connects to a new glass enclosed main corridor that will provide a main indoor artery for the school on both the first and second floor. This part of the plan, which also includes the installation of an elevator, solves some current circulation challenges, creates more open collaboration space in the building, and sets the stage for the next parts of our renovation effort after 2020.
- Create a pedestrian plaza in the center area of the lawn along Little Falls Road. This plaza will serve as a gathering place for students before and after school in good weather and as a potential venue for alumni gatherings. It will also provide easy pedestrian passage to a main crosswalk leading to the new main entrance.
Since late April of 2017, nearly $1.8 million of the $4 million in cash and pledges has been raised and we are adding to that total every day because of the generous support of donors who have engaged during this leadership phase.
In the coming months and over the next two years, we plan to proceed as follows:
- Demolition of the original Convent this summer.
- Infrastructure preparation, pre-fabrication work, and work on the pedestrian plaza in the 2018-19 school year.
- Construction of the new main entrance and main corridor in the summer of 2019.
- Construction of the new building and chapel during the 2019-2020 school year and into the summer of 2020.
As we move forward, we will continue to keep you apprised of our progress. In the meantime, we ask for your continued prayerful support. This major capital campaign is a fundraising challenge over and above our Knight Fund efforts that help us keep an excellent Bishop O'Connell experience within the reach of as many families as possible who are seeking Catholic education for their high school students.