A palpable energy could be felt at Christ the King Elementary School (CK) on July 8.
Dozens gathered at the southeast corner of the campus at 9240 S. Hoyne Ave., added to the excitement of a groundbreaking ceremony that CK Principal Ann Marie Riordan called a “momentous event.”
The CK community came together to celebrate CK2050, a project that will provide renovations, additional space and updated amenities.
Riordan said officials expect the project to be completed around February 2020. She thanked supporters for their donations to the effort and said CK2050 will bring about “the most transformative change in our school’s history.”
According to Riordan, the $5-million dollar project was made possible by donations from many in the CK parish.
“Our children will feel the positive effects of our sacrifices,” Riordan said, “and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”
CK2050, she said, includes many aspects. The parish convent will be gutted and remodeled for school use, and a small addition will be constructed. The new space will include kindergarten classrooms; art, music and guidance counselor rooms; a media center; and a secure main entrance and office.
The existing main building and renovated convent building will be connected for access between spaces, and an elevator will provide accessibility to all five floors of the school.
Riordan said CK was only utilizing 22 percent of the convent, and the project will enable it to use the entire space.
Enrollment at the school in North Beverly is 390 students, she said, and the school community and CK parish answered the call for support.
“We are the little parish that could,” Riordan said.
The first phase of the project was completed in the summer of 2016, Riordan said, when an old boiler was replaced with an energy-efficient HVAC system and “state of the art” LED lighting was installed in classrooms.
As the project continues, she said, it will provide the school with many benefits.
Riordan said the new main entrance will be “prominently identified” and have “enhanced security features to give every parent a greater peace of mind.” Kindergarten classrooms will feature an age-appropriate design for students, “maximizing the efficacy of our teachers and programs.”
The new art room “will have more space and natural light to enhance our children’s creativity,” and the library will be in the main school building, “dramatically decreasing the time students are out of the building and, therefore, keeping them safer.”
For the first time, Riordan said, music education will have a designated room.
The current main office and principal’s office will become pull-out spaces for resource staff, and the current art room and computer lab will serve as STEM labs.
“In our ever-changing world, it’s more important than ever that our children learn to problem solve and make sense of information, and gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions,” Riordan said. “These skills are developed in science, technology and math, the disciplines known as STEM.”
The Walsh Group, led by co-chairmen and CK graduates Dan and Matt Walsh, is managing construction and providing financial support, and the new building will be named in honor of their parents, Matthew and Margaret Walsh.
CK Pastor the Rev. Larry Sullivan said Matthew and Margaret Walsh “instilled their love of Catholic education, their love of Christ the King parish and their love of our neighborhood in their sons at an early age.”
He thanked the school’s financial supporters, and said they follow one of the school’s slogans, “Choose kind.”
“It is abundantly clear that our community chose kind,” Sullivan said, “in their willingness to make the financial sacrifices necessary to undertake this major construction and renovation project.”
Tom Fahey, who led the CK2050 committee, said efforts began four years ago, and every donation was critical.
“It was an extraordinary success story, reaching every corner in the parish—big gifts, small gifts, extraordinary support from the Walshes,” Fahey said. “It all resulted in this successful campaign.”
The project still needs funding for furnishings and final touches, Fahey said; however, that’s a “foothill” compared to the “mountain” the project was four years ago.
He praised CK supporters for donating millions of dollars.
“Parishes aren’t supposed to be able to do that,” Fahey said.
“Small parishes never do it. And, here we sit tonight, knowing that we pulled it off—and continue to pull it off.”