New building marks new beginning for St. Patrick School
“We have waited a long time for this moment,” said Principal Michael Campbell.
This moment was the long-awaited opening of the new St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School which symbolically opened its doors on May 2 during a week when Catholic schools across the province were engaged in a week-long celebration of Catholic education.
“You may know our theme for Catholic Education Week this year is ‘We are Many, We are One,’” said Chairperson Patrick Daly in welcome remarks. “Clearly that connects to our faith in that we are all one in the body of Christ, but on a day like today, it is so appropriate because many, many people worked tirelessly to make this day possible.”
Noting that the process to build the new school took nearly six years from beginning to end, he thanked Father Tony O’Dell and Fr. Jarek Pachocki from St. Patrick’s Church for their understanding, patience and support of the past several years, and expressed his appreciation to Associate Director of Corporate Services Paola Pace-Gubekjian, Senior Manager of Facility Management Services Paul Ferrie, and Manager of Physical Plant and Construction
Roy Drysdale for their tireless work through the planning and construction of the new St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School. He also added his thanks to trustees, and board and school staff who stayed the long course.
“But most especially, I want to thank each and every one of you here,” he addressed the students assembled in the gym for opening day celebrations. “You are the reason we are here today and this wonderful Catholic school building exists. You deserve this. And we could not be happier than you are in the kind of facilities that you can learn in, grow in, play in and really just have a wonderful, wonderful Catholic learning experience.”
The new 50,171 square foot, three-storey school was built on the existing East Ave. S. site but there, any resemblance to the former school ends.
Designed by Svedas Architects Inc. and built by Tambro Construction, the new colossal St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School boasts 13 classrooms, a resource room, a 2nd floor windowed gymnasium and library/resource centre, a dedicated 3-room, 49-space childcare centre, an EarlyON family drop-in centre, a two-storey front entrance vestibule, windowed 2nd and 3rd floor corridors, oversize windows to allow natural light, energy efficient mechanical and heating/cooling systems, a passenger elevator, two outdoor greenspaces, and the DeMazenod Door outreach centre.
The one-of-a-kind design was largely dictated by site limitations and Ministry space templates, said Daly, who added, “I don’t recall a project that took more creativity and patience on the part of an architect or builder.
The school and its amenities were unveiled to students and staff at a morning liturgy in the double-sized gymnasium on May 2nd.
“As wonderous as this building is, the structure itself is a mere reflection of our Catholic Faith,” said Principal Michael Campbell in words of gratitude.
“While we will display our beautiful new crucifixes, our statues, and admire the front foyer containing a stunning Celtic cross in the floor, it is our human connection, our relationships, our acts of kindness, and our love for each other that provide examples of Christ in our lives and show all who enter our building, whether Smith Avenue or East Avenue, that Jesus walks among us.”
Suggesting that the connection to DeMazenod Door is reminder of our calling to serve, he added, “Our actions make our school a place where we feel safe, a place where we are not afraid to take risks, a place where we protect and look out for one another, a place where loved is bounding through the halls and playground, a place that resembles a family, and a place where we see Jesus in all those we meet.”
The new school is St. Patrick’s third incarnation since opening on Hunter Street in 1855. The school moved to its current location on East Avenue South in 1912 and, in 2018, amalgamated with the former St. Brigid School. The new 383-capacity St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School – including child care and EarlyON centre – was built at a cost of $8.5 million. The new build is part of the board’s capital plan to replace older schools and replace facilities.
An official blessing and opening is planned for the fall.