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Schools renovated across diocese

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IMPROVEMENTS: St. Katharine Drexel Academy is among the local Catholic schools that have seen campus upgrades in recent years. (Credit: Courtesy St. Katharine Drexel Academy)

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SAN DIEGO — Catholic schools in the diocese work continuously to update their facilities, with the major renovation at St. Rita’s School being the latest example.

Between spring and summer of 2022, funding from the Shea Homes Foundation enabled St. Katharine Drexel Academy to redo its turf field, replace chain-link with wrought-iron fencing, and replace the windows in one building.

The Shea Homes Foundation was also responsible for recent improvements at three other schools.

At St. Charles School, the summer of 2022 saw the renovation of the K-5/office building’s exterior, including installation of a new sign; leveling and installing pavers outside the classrooms; renovating all student bathrooms; and installing student outdoor handwashing stations, new landscaping and security lighting.

At St. Mary’s (Escondido), the foundation upgraded Wi-fi connectivity and renovated three classrooms in 2020; renovated the remaining 11 classrooms in 2021; and, from May to August of 2023, made safety upgrades, including installing 12 real-time surveillance cameras and secure, metal doors on both sides of all 14 classrooms, as well as a science lab sink and a water bottle filling station.

At St. Columba School, between May and September of 2021, the foundation installed a new turf field, a new playground, air-conditioning in all classrooms, new flooring in the K-8 classrooms, and new windows for preschool through fifth grade.

Since then, St. Columba School has invested almost $200,000 in repairing and replacing its blacktop play areas and parking lot; about $100,000 this past year on new student bathrooms; and nearly $50,000 to renovate the parish hall with a new sound system, new windows and walls. These projects represented a partnership between the school and parish through joint fundraising campaigns.

In January of 2023, at Cathedral Catholic High School, construction began on Zak Myers Memorial Park. Named after an alumnus and teacher, the park includes the ZAK, which is the main building and the social gathering place, and the Zak Myers Food Pantry and Service-Learning Center.

Thanks to a grant from the Shea Foundation this year, Cristo Rey San Diego High School was able to renew the school’s appearance by applying fresh paint, repairing wood-related structural issues on the building, completely overhauling landscaping, revitalizing science classrooms and completely renovating the teacher’s lounge.

In May of 2023, nearly four years after the groundbreaking, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy blessed the extensively renovated Vincent Memorial Catholic High School, the Imperial Valley’s only Catholic high school. The project, which cost more than $6 million, included construction of a new building with a science lab, seven classrooms and a chapel; the remodeling of existing classrooms; new sidewalks; a new staff parking area; new exterior paint; and a new front gate.

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