Br. Rice High School has big plans for the future, and the all-boys Catholic school took another step in fulfilling that vision with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 9 for a revamped main parking lot.

Part of the school’s five-year, $11-million capital campaign, “Heed the Call,” the makeover of the parking lot comes on the heels of other renovations inside the school at 10001 S. Pulaski Rd., and major improvements are planned for other parts of campus.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Br. Rice President Mark Donahue. “Somebody said that we’re matching our physical presence with the academic results that we consistently deliver every year, which is the best results of a Catholic boys school on the South Side.”

The capital campaign began the last year—during the pandemic—as the school laid down new turf on its athletic field and renovated the chapel and faculty lounge.

The parking lot, Donahue said, will be overhauled in two ways.

First, the sewer system will be revamped to address water concerns.

“We’re going to significantly improve the water management and tie our sewer system into the tunnel, which is essentially part of the Deep Tunnel [the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s enormous reservoir plan and flood-reducing system], allowing for improved drainage and water management,” Donahue said. “It’s a key thing.”

The lot will also be excavated, Donahue said, and the foundation will be replaced and new pavement installed.

Six “islands” will be installed to enhance the landscaping in the lot, and new school signage will be constructed at the corner of 99th Street and Pulaski Road, with a wrought-iron fence and new landscaping.

New lighting will be installed, and new sidewalks will be constructed along the entrance to the school near the parking lot.

Future plans for the three-phase campaign, Donahue said, include relocating the baseball field from the north end of campus to further south, so that the field faces north. The field will also be resurfaced.

An “athletic community corridor,” free from traffic, will be constructed outside the entrance to the athletic stadium and near the new baseball field.

Other interior projects include transitioning the library into a student-activity center, which will enhance amenities for journalism, engineering, visual arts, music and science instruction; renovating the cafeteria; expanding the student-counseling center; and renovating the main gym, in which the floor and lower-level bleachers will be replaced.

“We’ve had a lot of great support from donors,” Donahue said, “and we’ll continue to seek that over the next four years.”

Managing the parking-lot renovation are G3 Construction Group, of Willowbrook, and Cassidy Excavating, of Crestwood, one of numerous companies working on the project that employ Br. Rice alumni.

About $3 million from the campaign will go toward tuition assistance and scholarships.

Donahue said he’s excited about the next four years of the campaign.

“We want to send a real strong, positive message in the Br. Rice community about what we’re doing,” Donahue said. “There’s been lot of great support, and we’re sharing that with all of our surrounding communities, parishes and schools.”