GREENVILLE, S.C. — This fall, the 101 students at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School signed one of the main beams that will be used to support the roof of their new school building.
During the Oct. 11 topping out ceremony, the final beam was lifted into place, completing another step toward replacing the current building. Photos of the event were posted on the school’s Facebook page.
“It was a ‘hooray!’ moment,” Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, said. “Students felt a real sense of ownership because their names are on that beam.”
Several media outlets, including the Greenville News, reported on the event, said Susan Cinquemani, a member of St. Anthony School’s mission advancement team.
Built in 1956, the current building lacks enough classrooms, offices, restrooms and technology to meet the needs of its students. It is also in need of many repairs. The roof leaks in 26 places. The cinderblock walls are dissolving. Installing a sprinkler system to bring the building up to code would cost over $800,000. The principal’s office is an old trailer sitting on the front lawn of the school. In addition, classroom technology is not up-to-date.
There is no library, no science lab, no gymnasium, no art room and no music room. The cafeteria doubles as an auditorium and does not have enough room to accommodate all the students.
“We provide an extraordinary education. 94 percent of our students graduate high school, where local public schools have a graduation rate of 38 percent,” Patrick said. “But without proper athletic facilities, science labs and music rooms, I think our students receive less than their peers, even though they achieve more.”
The new building will fix that. In addition to new classrooms and an administrative suite, the two-story building will give students a state-of-the-art library, an indoor gymnasium, and an assembly area. There will also be separate playground areas for pre-k/kindergarteners and elementary students.
The new building is part of “Weaving a Bright Future,” the $5 million capital campaign the school initiated in 2010. The $5 million was raised in one year.
“The whole city has built this school,” Patrick said. “The local public high school gave $50,000 it raised during its spirit week competition. A public school is helping to build a private school.”
Two Baptist churches, a Methodist church, a Presbyterian church, and an Assembly of God church also made significant donations.
A groundbreaking ceremony occurred in February, and construction is scheduled for completion in April 2013.
Founded in 1951 as a Black American Franciscan school, according to its website, St. Anthony of Padua School continues to provide a high quality Catholic education to its students and is one of the oldest private schools in Greenville County, S.C., today. A majority of students is from an impoverished area of West Greenville.
After construction is complete, the old school building will be used for parish meetings.
More information on the school’s capital campaign can be found on its website.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.