A science lab of Aquinas Academy in Hampton. The school has completed its $4.8 million McGonigle Mross hall, which has 15 classrooms, two high school science labs, a media room, and a fine arts wing.
Aquinas Academy in Hampton has completed its $4.8 million McGonigle Mross hall, which has 15 classrooms, two high school science labs, a media room, and a fine arts wing. Students, faculty and staff are moving in the first week of November.
By Kathleen Ganster
It took a whole lot of praying and a whole lot of fundraising to see the new Mross McGonigle Hall come to fruition at Aquinas Academy in Hampton, officials say.
The $4.8 million building is approximately 22,000 square feet and in a few weeks will house the high school students and some of the administrators.
“We are so excited for this new facility. It sits in the front of our campus and is just beautiful — it will be the first thing people will see when they come to the school,” said Juan Mata, head of admissions.
Aquinas Academy is an independent, private Catholic school that started with 14 students in 1996. At the time, the school rented the former St. Catherine’s Elementary School on the site of the St. Catherine of Sweden Roman Catholic Church.
When St. Catherine’s built a new church and moved in 2002, Aquinas Academy purchased the church, rectory and property. Today, there are 345 students from 11 school districts.
The new building, which is named after two major donors, has 13 high school classrooms for science, music, band and arts. There also will be space for administrators.
As the school expanded over the years, it outgrew the facilities, and students were housed in the former rectory and parish hall. Four years ago, they built a gymnasium and multi-purpose room that is used to house the music programs. It became obvious, according to Leslie Mitros, head of the school, that they needed additional room.
“Over the years, we’ve had growing pains and we needed more space. Plus, we needed modern science facilities,” she said. The new facility will not only give the current students, faculty and staff more space but allow the school to grow.
Construction started in August 2013. Once Hampton issues its permits, students and staff will be moved in. Some finishing touches will be added by the end of the year, Mr. Mata said.
The funding for the project came from several sources.
“We had three major donors who each gave $1 million. Then our families and friends of the school raised over another $1 million. We are still raising money to fill the small gap,” Ms. Mitros said.
As the members of the Aquinas Academy community raised money, they also did a lot of praying, according to Mike Burchill, assistant head of the school.
“They have been saying prayers and helping in every way they can,” he said. That includes students helping to move small items to the new building.
“That way they take ownership. They are really excited about the project,” he said.
Two students echoed Mr. Burchill’s sentiments.
“I remember when I first came here and there was only one main building. I’ve seen a lot of change and improvements, but this is our building. It was never St. Catherine’s, but built new for us,” said junior Hannah Canil, 16, of Adams.
Her classmate, junior Elena Liguori, 17, of McCandless agreed.
“This is what we were praying for and raising money for. After seeing the little model for so long, this is the real thing,” she said.
It was well worth the prayers and fundraising, Ms. Mitros said.
“We have been using every nook and cranny and we took a risk building a nearly $5 million building, but it was apparent we were a growing, thriving school and we needed more room. And now we are moving into this wonderful new building,” she said.
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