New Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School on display

Prospective students and their parents — and other curious folks — got their first glimpse of the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School at an open house Sunday in Cranberry.

The 181,000-square-foot high school is still under construction, and busloads of teenagers and parents boarded buses at St. Kilian School for the short ride across Route 228 to the new facility.

Mounds of dirt greeted visitors as the buses climbed the hill to the facility, a reminder of the work still to be completed before the school opens.

The interior is nearly complete, except for the chapel.

The building will replace the current high school on Troy Hill, which was built in 1939, and has an enrollment of a little over 200 students. The new building has a capacity of 1,000 students, said the Rev. Charles Bober, the school’s president.

Moving the high school to Cranberry allows the school to tap into “a number of successful Catholic schools” for future students, Father Bober said.

“For us, it is right in the middle of a lot of young people that we hope will make this their home for Catholic school,” he said. “We hope it is the right place at the right time.”

The $72 million building is “a large investment” for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Father Bober admitted, “but typically the diocese has tried to build schools where the students lived.”

Current freshmen Sam Breen of Pine, Madison Colovos of Seven Fields and Anna Voelker of Butler said they can’t wait to begin their sophomore year in the new facility.

“I love the labs. I think they are beautiful,” Madison said.

Anna said the school still needs some special touches. “I think it will be really nice once we bring in stuff from the old school to personalize it.”

Sam plays sports and is looking forward to the new gymnasium and athletic fields on the property.

“The gym and the locker rooms are really beautiful,” she said. “The school now isn’t horrible, but compared to this …” she added, not finishing the sentence.

North Catholic offers football, basketball, baseball, softball and girls’ volleyball. The new facility will enable it to add girls’ and boys’ soccer, cross country and lacrosse, said Mike Burrell, athletic director and dean of students. In addition, wrestling will become a school sport rather than a club sport.

There will be two large practice fields, as well as two full-size fields for football and soccer.

The gym seats 1,250, and Mr. Burrell hopes they can host regional and state playoff basketball and volleyball playoffs.

The athletic wing consists of locker rooms, offices, a film room and a weight room which will have all new equipment, including a treadmill and cardio machines. “When you’re on the treadmill, you can look out the window and see [Route] 228. It’s a nice view,” Mr. Burrell said.

The auditorium seats 900, and it is hoped that the facility can be rented to community groups, he said.

The gym, auditorium, chapel, offices, athletic wing and some classrooms are on the first floor. More classrooms are on the second floor, and the cafeteria, which is set up like a food court, is in the basement. There is an unfinished wing that can have eight more classrooms if needed in the future.

Natural light floods all classrooms and hallways, Mr. Burrell said, adding that they might even be able to leave the lights off during Pittsburgh’s rare sunny days.

Each classroom is carpeted in the school colors — red and gold — and will have an interactive board. The building is wireless, and each student will be given a laptop to use for school work. Open spaces in the hallways will hold printers and places where students can sit to do their work.

There is also a television studio and music rooms. The school will add band, orchestra and chorus in the new building, Mr. Burrell said.

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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