° empty

Cathedral expansion project making strides

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School senior Colby Johnson works on economics homework in the school's library near a banner tracking the money raised by the school's capital campaign. The campaign has raised $1,843,157 so far.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School senior Colby Johnson works on economics homework in the school’s library near a banner tracking the money raised by the school’s capital campaign. The campaign has raised $1,843,157 so far.

NATCHEZ — Three months into a $4 million campaign to expand the Cathedral School campus, school officials are nearing the halfway mark.

A capital campaign titled, “Our Children, Our Tradition, Our Future,” was launched in February to help fund a new middle school building, a new athletic field house facility, state-of-the-art science labs and refurbished restrooms campus-wide.

The ultimate goal for the project, elementary school principal Shannon Bland said, is to help move the school forward to provide the students with more science, technology, engineering and math programs.

“A primary mission of Cathedral is for our students to go out into the real world and be prepared both spiritually and educationally,” Bland wrote in a newsletter to Cathedral supporters. “Keeping pace and providing the latest state-of-the-art technological facilities and resources is imperative in achieving that mission and facilitating that transition.

“Providing the finest facilities and programs for our children will assure them the best chances for success.”

Asking parents, teachers and community members to contribute to the fund during tough economic times wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, Bland said.

“It’s a tough economy right now, so we’re just trying to reinforce that if everyone participates it’s going to get done a lot faster,” Bland said. “We all have to buckle down and understand that we’re all going to have to make a sacrifice and go that extra mile to make this happen.”

And those types of positive messages have been making the difference, as the school has received 288 gifts totaling $1,843,157 raised.

Development coordinator Stephanie Serio Smith said the fundraising campaign has been going well since it began.

“The response so far has been good,” Smith said. “We are now focused on generating the monies needed to break ground on the new middle school building.

“Students in the elementary (school) will greatly benefit from the new middle school, and all students will benefit from the new state-of-the-art high school science labs and classrooms.”

Smith said the renovations to two high school science labs and classrooms will begin June 1 and are expected to be complete in time for the 2013-2014 school year.

“Following the completion of the new middle school building, the high school science department will have separate, designated spaces for each of the science labs and science classrooms as the high school will occupy the freed up space which is now the junior high wing,” Smith said.

Bland said the construction on the other projects would depend on how quickly the remaining funds can be raised.

“Of course we’d love to have this building finished for next year, but it’s hard in this economy,” Bland said. “Our goal is not to have to borrow money to build the building.”

The last improvements made at the school were in 1996 and totaled approximately $1.1 million. The project included building the multi-purpose room, elementary library, four preschool classrooms, a computer room, a new weight-room facility and new roofs for the high school and gym.