Students at St. Mary Catholic School in Spring Lake held classes in their new building for the first time when they returned from the Thanksgiving holiday on November 28, 2016.
The $5.5 million Catholic Education Center is the first new elementary school building in the Diocese of Grand Rapids in almost 20 years. It improves safety, enhances opportunities for collaborative learning, and accommodates technological advances for 21st-century learning. It brings the school’s preschool through 8th grade students under one roof; previously, classrooms were in multiple buildings on the St. Mary Catholic Church campus. The previous middle school building will be demolished, and the elementary building will become the parish food pantry and provide storage space.
St. Mary pastor Rev. Dave Gross said he’s extremely grateful for the community’s support of this project. “We have over a thousand donors who have given to the project; we have people who have been giving time -- painting, and installing ceiling tiles, and cleaning -- the last four, five, six weeks,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience, and something that we’re all very grateful for.”
“We’re very excited today; the kids are going to be in awe of this wonderful new building,” said Principal Steve VanHammen. “To have everybody [under one roof] where we don’t have to put on coats and hats to get to P.E. or to lunch will save a lot of time, and we can spend more time in the classroom.”
Those classrooms are state of the art, too, with smart boards, upgraded computers, and collaborative learning spaces, in addition to using the latest technology for safety and security.
Construction took roughly eight months following the March 18 groundbreaking. The new building also houses the parish faith formation program, in addition to the school.
See photos of the first day in the new building at this link.
St. Mary Catholic School in Spring Lake serves nearly 200 students in preschool through 8th grade. Learn more here.