St. Mary’s broke ground Wednesday on a building project that will transform the school’s urban campus and significantly upgrade educational opportunities in critical subject areas.
About 50 trustees, administrators, alumni and friends gathered in front of the William F. Connell Center – which opened in 2005 – for a ceremonial groundbreaking on a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building and a gateway entrance to the school’s campus.
The three-story glass entrance will be built between the Connell and Cardinal Cushing centers, while the new STEM building will be constructed behind the Connell Center. The annex, which houses the St. Mary’s Advancement staff as well as the parish chapel, will be torn down, beginning around August 1. The chapel will be relocated.
“St. Mary’s has moved with the times into the 21st century,” said Board of Trustees chair William Mosakowski, referencing the school’s 135-year history. “The requirements now are for students to be far better grounded in science. We need this building and we need these programs in order to provide a robust, comprehensive education for our students.”
The building project will be funded through the Building Futures campaign, which to date has raised almost $15 million. Funds raised during the campaign will also provide scholarship support for students, as well as academic and extracurricular programming.
“That’s a remarkable feat,” said Grace Cotter Regan, Head of School. “This is a wonderful time for Lynn and we are proud to be part of the great developments that are happening in the city.”
Glenn Morris, a St. Mary’s alumnus who serves as chair of the Building Futures campaign, said the new entrance to the school will offer benefits in addition to aesthetics.
“Because it will serve as the central entrance point to the entire campus, it will enhance security,” Morris said, adding that when the project is complete, the Connell Center, Cushing Center and new STEM building will all be connected.
The STEM building will include technologically advanced classrooms, labs and makerspaces – areas where students can use their creativity to design, invent, experiment and build.
“One of the hallmarks of St. Mary’s is that it provides a foundation for students that will help them as they go through life,” Morris said. “Today, there is a groundbreaking. Later this summer, we will be installing a foundation.”
The timeline calls for work to be completed in time for the opening of the 2018-19 school year. Design work is being done by CBT Architects of Boston, while North reading-based Columbia Construction Company is the general contractor.
“As we celebrate 135 years, we are literally building the future,” Regan said. “That is a very exciting proposition.”