When students and staff return to Our Lady of Lourdes School in August, the building and grounds will have a new look.
Interior and exterior improvements are under way at the Catholic grade school in Washington.
The projects include a new school entrance, new administrative offices, a redesigned preschool and an expanded play area behind the school.
All of the work is being made possible through the Foundation of Faith Capital Campaign, school groups and many volunteers, according to Father Mike Boehm.
“We’re excited about how it’s shaping up,” said Father Mike. “We have crews of volunteers working here almost every day.”
The school now has an enclosed front foyer where guests and students can get out of the weather.
The new school offices are located immediately to the right of the front lobby where the library had been. The library has been moved into another room.
“The new offices are immediately visible when people come into the new entrance, which will provide much more security,” said Father Mike. “The school secretary will now be able to see who’s coming and going, and it will be much more welcoming for our guests.”
The library was completely gutted and two new offices/rooms constructed, as well as a large reception area where the secretary will sit. One office will be for Principal Rick Danzeisen, who just assumed his duties in June. The other will be used as a conference room and a space for students who aren’t feeling well.
The preschool, located in the lower level of the school, also is being renovated. New walls are going up to create “much needed” separation and help control noise levels for the different classes, Father Mike said, and the ceiling and lights are being replaced.
“It will be a much brighter environment for the preschoolers,” he said. “And a great side benefit is that the new lights are more energy efficient and will use less electricity.”
Outside, behind school, students will soon have a much larger play area, Father Mike said, one that also is much safer and cleaner.
The play structure is being upgraded thanks to funding support from the Home and School Association, he said, and the major drainage issues at the site are being addressed. An old storage shed also will be removed.
“We have secured a new storage shed for the time being and are working on a more permanent solution for the future,” he added. “The end result of this whole outside project will be great and something we can all be proud of.”
Father Mike said most of the labor for the project is volunteer which has helped to keep costs down.
“I can’t say enough about our volunteers, most of whom are parishoners,” he said.
For now, nothing is being done to the old church space connected to the school.
“We’re still talking about how to best use that space,” said Father Mike.
Improvements to the school have been ongoing over the last couple of years. Previously, a new roof was put on the old church, and new windows were installed throughout the school and old church area, as well as many new doors.
Awnings were installed last year over the preschool and gym entrances, signage has gone up on the school building and ceiling and lighting work was done in the classrooms. Landscaping also has been put around the school.
Infrastructure improvements also have been completed as the school’s technology needs have increased. The school and parish offices are now “connected,” said Father Mike which has improved efficiencies.
OLL’s capital campaign was launched in August 2009 and is ongoing. The goal of the drive was to reduce the parish’s debt and make improvements.
“We’ve been able to accomplish both,” Father Mike said. “We have reduced our debt from about $2.8 million when we started the campaign to about $1.5 million and we’ve made about $500,000 in improvements.
“And we’re not finished yet. We have and always will have ongoing needs,” he added. “but I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and it’s because we have such dedicated volunteers.”