By Roman Flores
CALEXICO – Construction of a science building at the Imperial Valley’s only Catholic high school is on track to be finished in June despite the pandemic and a break-in that led to major water damage.
The plan is for students to begin to use the science classrooms and the chapel in the new building at Vincent Memorial Catholic High School in August, when the academic year is scheduled to begin.
Meanwhile, its students ended the school year taking their classes through the Internet, due to the state’s stay-at-home order. Commencement for the senior class of 57 students, and the Holy Mass celebrated in their honor, have been postponed until health authorities permit such gatherings.
Sister Guadalupe “Lupita” Hernández, the principal of the high school, said the COVID-19 pandemic did not interrupt the construction of the new building.
Nor did a break-in at the construction site on the morning of March 30, she said. The incident led to what was estimated by the Calexico police department to be tens of thousands of dollars of water damage to a building wall as well as the theft of cleaning supplies, a maintenance cart and textbooks from school lockers.
A suspect in the case was arrested as he attempted to re-enter the U.S. through the Calexico port of entry on April 1. He was charged with commercial burglary and vandalism, according to a department spokesman.
In May of 2019, the school broke ground for the science building during a ceremony presided over by San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy. The project had been planned since 2014.
The principal said that the high school still needs to raise funds to cover the cost of renovating classrooms in the school’s main building. The school has raised the majority of the $3.7 million total project cost through a mix of diocesan help and funds raised by the Parent-Teacher Group.
However, the school still needs $400,000 to complete the project, said the principal.
Two fundraising events that had been planned for the spring – a fashion show and a raffle – were canceled due to the pandemic.
“If we have enough money by July then we will renovate,” the principal said. “If not, we’ll stop there.”
The old trailers that the high school had used for two decades will be donated, the principal said.
The school is accepting donations through its website vchs.com/donate.php. Individuals may also phone the school at (760) 357-3461 to donate using a credit or debit card, or they can send a check to VMCHS, 525 W. Sheridan Ave., Calexico, CA 92231.