BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — From the outside, Immaculate Heart of Mary School won’t look any different than it has for years. There have been some changes over the summer, however, to keep the building inviting and up to date.
“They’re not going to see a lot of changes outside. But the building itself has seen a lot of updates to make it feel, and to make it be, more modern,” principal Tina Morroni said earlier this summer.
The one outdoor project that people might have noticed was the replacement of the roof on the gymnasium. It was supposed to happen last year but was postponed during the first summer of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite some leaks in the roof, the gymnasium floor was not damaged. That was resurfaced this summer as well.
Morroni said she noticed some things that needed updating since she arrived at IHM in 2019. Sometimes, the motivation comes from others.
“We had a parent come in to tour with their child to attend. The husband had gone here and was very connected to the school and loved coming in and seeing his alma mater,” she said.
The man noted that the school looked the same as it did when he attended.
“He was feeling very close and connected to it, but I heard it as kind of not such a great thing,” Morroni said.
Several changes have been made since then. A set of interior doors at the school entrance have been removed to make coming into the building more inviting. The elementary wing of the school has been repainted. Partitions in about half the bathrooms have been removed, and new doors and dividers were installed. New sink sensors will cut down on water waste, Morroni said.
A television has been installed in the foyer to play information about Immaculate Heart of Mary for guests. Also, the trophy case is being updated.
The school recently kicked off a campaign to bring air conditioning to the school. Last year, there were some early dismissals because the heat and humidity inside was too intense, she said.
“We will continue this whole school year to raise funds for air conditioning. The plan will be for next summer to have air conditioning,” Morroni said.
Education is the primary measuring stick at a school, but changes such as those taking place at IHM will help keep families coming, she continued.
“You want parents who are viewing schools for the first time to feel like you’re keeping pace with the technology. You’re keeping pace with the safety upgrades … and the things that make a space look as revived as you can make it look,” she said.
As with all of the schools in the Diocese of Wilmington, IHM is ready to welcome back all of its students. Last year, since the school enrollment is above 250 students, they were in a hybrid format. The lower grades were in-person all year, but others attended three days one week and two days the next.
Enrollment is up from last year and is what the school expected, Morroni said. There are a few new faculty members, and the guidance counselor has been converted to full-time. The school also has added an interventionist.
“Everything’s looking good for IHM,” Morroni said.