St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church has remained in a state of perpetual growth since reaching a low point of less than 100 students in 2006, and that continued rise in student population caused a subsequent revamping of the organization’s long-term plans that is now under way.
During the past year, leaders at St. Rose of Lima have re-envisioned the church’s master plan, including not only the education and formation building, but also a school administration building, a multi-use community building, and more in their Faith in Action campaign. At the core of the effort is a two-story, 36,000 square-foot education building aimed at enhancing the experience for St. Rose’s burgeoning student population.
Principal Bernadette Drabek believes the building will solve not only urgent space needs, but also allow St. Rose of Lima to continue building upon a strong foundation that has resulted in enrollment increases across all education and formation programs offered over the past decade and then some. Back in 2006, enrollment stood at just 98 students; today it has reached more than 400 students. Additionally, with close to 1,700 members of the community engaged in education and formation outside regular Mass attendance, lack of available space continues to have existing facilities bursting at the seams.
“To be competitive with all these great schools [like Garden Oaks and Oak Forest elementaries], not only do we need great teachers and people to come to our programs, we’ve also got to have the facilities,” Drabek said.
St. Rose’s new education building will include a net gain of six additional classroom spaces to increase enrollment in the school, parish education, and formation programs. Classrooms will hold three Kindergarten classes and two of each 1st – 8th grade classes.
It will also add dedicated ancillary space for art and music; state-of-the-art computer lab to include the latest technologically advanced learning tools; a language lab; and a science lab to allow for more hands-on exploration of STEM subjects. Both a middle school and elementary library as well as collaborative learning environments and break-out spaces for small group learning will finish off the project.
Seeing as about 40 to 50 percent of St. Rose of Lima’s student population hails from the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhoods, representative Jennifer Saladino and Drabek both agreed the expansion remains integral in maintaining the legacy of the school’s students, many of whom represent at least a second generation to attend. Both also see it as a chance for more academic enrichment.
“We do a lot of hands-on and group-centered activity from Pre-K through 3rd grade and then sort of mellow it off. It’s just a great way for the kids to collaborate,” Drabek said. “Opening up the building –especially in junior high – to where students can work with each other just seemed like a perfect fit.”
“Students learn more from each other [in group settings], and it’s overall just a more enriching experience geared towards academic excellence,” Saladino added.
With the ability to sustain a portion of construction costs through earned income, St. Rose of Lima is currently seeking to raise $4.5 million to reach the total goal of $9 million and move forward into construction. Currently, Saladino says administrators are in the process of transitioning from the quiet phase of the program to the “loud” phase Nov. 2.
Administrators hope to break ground on the expansion in early 2019, but acknowledged that the schedule remains fluid based on funding. For now, there are drop-off locations on-site, and Drabek said those interested in donating to the Faith in Action campaign are always welcome to reach out to her and arrange an on-campus tour before donating.
“We don’t want people to get into something they don’t believe in. We would love for people to see the program before they donate to – we want you to believe in what you’re backing,” Drabek said. “It’s an exciting time – there’s something about giving to education – those kids are the future.”
For more information on the efforts, interested parties can visit St. Rose of Lima’s website and choose the “Faith in Action Capital Campaign” option under the “Ways to Give” tab.