GLASGOW – A day almost 17 years in the making finally arrived on May 30 as Christ the Teacher School ceremonially broke ground for its long-awaited gymnasium and classroom addition. Hundreds of students and many of their parents joined Bishop Malooly, diocesan and school officials and the pastors of the four sponsoring parishes in digging silver spades into the dirt.
The ceremony also celebrated the impending construction of a social hall for St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, which shares the property off Route 40 with Christ the Teacher. Msgr. John P. Hopkins, the pastor of St. Margaret since its founding in 1999 and the administrator of the school, recalled when he first set foot on the 40-acre parcel. Where the church now stands was an old two-story white farmhouse, and the property was overgrown with shrubs and trees.
“Seventeen years later, look what we’ve accomplished,” he said. “Hundreds of families and students that have prayed, studied and played on this site.”
Ground for the school was broken on June 12, 2001, and the doors opened for 357 students in kindergarten through sixth grade in September of the following year. Almost immediately, the need for a regulation-size gymnasium was apparent, and more classroom space became a necessity. The addition will house pre-kindergarten students as well as give Christ the Teacher’s varsity teams a chance to finally play home basketball and volleyball games.
Related: Expansion plans announced.
Both Msgr. Hopkins and Mercy Sister LaVerne King, who was appointed principal a year before the doors opened, thanked the people who made the additions possible. Sister LaVerne said after the ceremony that discussions about the new gym began in earnest around nine years ago, and that virtually all of the money raised came through events like casino nights, auctions and similar endeavors.
“This has just been a perfect end to a long time waiting and a long time working to raise the money to make it possible,” Sister LaVerne said.
Schools superintendent Louis De Angelo reminded the crowd that the school exists to nourish the spirit as well as the body and the mind. The classrooms for the youngest students “will certainly engage their minds.
“But we’re all about developing our soul or spirit. And so, what we really celebrate today, when we get together here the next time, we will have a grander celebration, because Catholic education is all about our” – De Angelo allowed the crowd to finish the sentence “body, our mind and spirit.”
The spiritual aspect was also on the mind of Bishop Malooly, who called the social hall and gymnasium an opportunity “to continue to build up God’s kingdom in our time.”
As the projects begin, then continue to progress toward their conclusion, they will help bring joy into our lives, the bishop said. He noted the enthusiasm he encountered inside the school before the groundbreaking.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t have my hearing aids in,” he joked.
Assistant principal Stephen Adams, in his third year at the school, said the students are “absolutely excited” about the opportunity to have home games. In the current facility, there is insufficient space behind each baseline for volleyball players to serve or for basketball players to drive to the baskets without a wall staring them in the face.
“I think that brings a sense of ownership to the project for them,” he said. “The first time they win a championship in their own gym, I think that will make the project real for them.”
Adams said the building is scheduled for completion in approximately a year, giving school officials the summer to get everything set up for a September 2019 opening.
The current gym, separated from the cafeteria by a retractable divider, will be “reimagined, Msgr. Hopkins said, possibly as a combination theater, auditorium and cafeteria. But that’s a bit down the road.
As much as Christ the Teacher needs a gym, St. Margaret needs its hall, Msgr. Hopkins said after the ceremony. The current church building lacks a kitchen, and the school cafeteria is often not available for parish use because there are so many activities in the school.
St. Margaret was not able to build the hall until now, he said, and is among the few parishes without those facilities. It has grown from a couple hundred families who worshiped when Mass was held in a nearby warehouse to more than 1,400 today. A place for casual gatherings is necessary, Msgr. Hopkins said.
“We gather around the table of the Lord, but you need to be able to gather around some other tables, too, in order to build community,” he said.
Both Msgr. Hopkins and Sister LaVerne agreed on one point about the groundbreaking – almost.
“The last groundbreaking we’re doing on this property,” Msgr. Hopkins told the gathering.
“This is probably the last major project on the campus, but you never know,” Sister LaVerne said afterward.
Related: Expansion plans announced.