HAMDEN — Sacred Heart Academy has launched a capital campaig to support the first phase of a master plan that includes construction of a new school center that will serve as an educational, social and cultural center hub.
More than 200 guests were on hand for the announcement of the fundraising initiative, dubbed "Ever Higher — The Campaign for Sacred Heart Academy," on Nov. 6.
The master plan was approved in 2015 by the school’s board of directors and advisory council.
“The current building, constructed in the 1950s, suited the needs of the time and long beyond,” said president Sister Sheila O’Neill, '71, of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “Now we will build a space that will allow us to keep pace with the changing academic climate of the 21st century and will enhance the sense of community that is central to our mission.”
Sister Sheila spearheaded the development of the master plan soon after her installation as the school’s first president in 2010. It included an extensive and inclusive process calling on the entire school to consider the future needs of the academy.
She said that about 1,000 people, including current and past students and their parents, faculty and staff, took part in numerous meetings.
In keeping with the challenges and pace of 21st-century learning, the plans for Phase I call for a new school center to be constructed in front of the existing building, connecting the Philip Paolella, Jr. Recreation Center and the original main entrance. The new wing, or school center, will be a central hub accessible to those with physical challenges. It will include a new student commons that will be a natural gathering spot for students before, after and between classes and will include a gallery to display students' and visiting artists' works.
“Anyone entering the building will do so on the ground level in full view of the relocated main office. We love having visitors and want them to feel welcome. The new configuration will be a central hub for the school while providing enhanced safety and security,” Sister Sheila said.
The president’s office, principal’s office and offices for admissions and alumnae affairs will be near the main office. New conference rooms will provide convenient meeting space for alumnae, academic departments, advisory council and parents' clubs.
Sister Sheila said the new student center will feature a green roof, also known as a living roof. “Both functional and attractive, a green roof reduces storm water runoff, lowers cooling costs, and is a visible manifestation of our commitment to stewardship of our earth,” said Sister Sheila.
Stephen LaPointe of Cheshire, who serves on the campaign cabinet, called the master plan "the right plan at the right time.".
The new school center is designed by David Thompson of David Thompson Architects, a New Haven-based architectural firm with extensive experience serving educational and religious communities throughout the region.
The new space is 7,500 square feet and has a projected cost of $5 million.
Groundbreaking will take place in the summer 2of 018 with completion in time for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“I am thrilled to report, that as of today, thanks to the generosity of many in our community and with funds that were saved and invested, we now have $4,380,000 toward our goal. We are in need of $620,000 to cross the finish line,” Sister Sheila offered told those at the launch event.
The Giving Collaborative (TGC), headquartered in East Haven, is the campaign consulting firm. CEO and principal David Garamella is working with Sister Sheila, campaign director Debbie Camnerof Hamden and many campaign volunteers.