Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik knelt Friday afternoon in the muddy gravel before a white steel beam, the last piece of the steel skeleton of the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry, as he and some two dozen construction workers signed the beam as part of a "topping out" ceremony.
A 100-foot boom hoisted the beam into the blue sky then gently settled it into its resting spot: the stair tower of the first new Catholic high school to be built in this region since 1967.
Calling the moment a "historic occasion" that he was "grateful" to be part of, Bishop Zubik said he expects the school to one day hold 1,000 students.
The $71 million construction project is expected to be completed in January 2014, with classes there to begin in August 2014.
At that point, the building that houses North Catholic High School on Troy Hill will be decommissioned and sold. The school currently has an enrollment around 200.
Bishop Zubik likened the situation to North Catholic "giving birth" to the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School.
He said its location near Cranberry, where local Catholic elementaries are "bursting at the seams," promises a capacity enrollment at the new high school on the north side of Route 228, directly across the highway from St. Kilian Elementary in Cranberry.
The site comprises about 71 acres.
Astorino Architects and Engineers has designed the new facility, the curriculum framework has been completed and funding and financing are in place.
The curriculum framework has been developed by a school education planning commission that represents a cross section of educators and Catholic leaders.
The school will have a science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM -- certification program as well as technical education and programs for students with special needs, performing and fine arts, advanced placement options, electronic portfolio and project-based graduation requirements.
Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-9180.