Groundbreaking ceremony celebrates start of consolidation construction


April 23, 2021

The construction of the 10th Street extension to Cathedral Prep in preparation for the 2022 consolidation of Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy officially began last Thursday with a groundbreaking ceremony. Donors, students, and community members gathered near the construction site to celebrate the beginning of a bright future for Catholic education in Erie. 

Mr. Dougherty, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Cathedral Prep, said the groundbreaking had been in the works since January of 2021 and is something not out of the ordinary to be held when major construction processes are set to begin. 

“This is just a way to let the public know that work is underway,” Mr. Dougherty said. “A lot of new projects will do something like this just to signify the start, although it already has started and you won’t see any major construction for another month.” 

Mr. Dougherty went on to explain what exactly is involved in a groundbreaking ceremony and what the student body and other individuals attending the event would be seeing. 

“There’s going to be some remarks from the Bishop, the Mayor, and the Interim President. Then, everyone is going to take a shovel and hold it and have a ceremonial groundbreaking,” he said. “Then we’ll get some photos for memories for people involved in the project so they can remember their involvement in this huge undertaking.”

Campus Minister Father Jason Feigh leads the ceremonial prayer

In addition to the ceremonial traditions of a groundbreaking, student council created a time capsule to bury at the sight of construction. Student Council President Joe Armanini tells of his excitement about and gratitude for being a part of the group and being able to influence what went inside the time capsule. 

“We were able to create a time capsule with a bunch of little memories and paraphernalia from throughout the years at Prep, including a yearbook, a couple of fun things like a frisbee, a couple things in memoriam of Jack Schoenig, religious things, and a letter from the council dating today and what’s going on in the world,” Joe said. “I wasn’t expecting as many people as there are, but it’s wonderful to see that so many people care about the school and that everyone was comfortable being outside.”

Also among the students present, junior Andrew Kolodychak was present to watch the groundbreaking. Andrew is excited for the new addition and wants to see how the new school and consolidation will look for the future.

“I am excited to see what they do with the new school once they merge,” he said. 

Mary Grace Kelly, a senior at Villa, also attended the groundbreaking. She was invited by Mrs. Fehr to sing the national anthem for the ceremony. As for the groundbreaking, she felt it was a very big change, and a welcome one at that. 

“I think that the merger will give us a lot more opportunities than we would’ve ever had separate so I’m very excited to see the results of it,” she said.

Villa Maria Academy Senior Mary Grace Kelly sings the national anthem

Notable members of the community such as Bishop Persico of the Diocese of Erie and Mayor of Erie Joe Schember attended the groundbreaking ceremony and gave a few words about the anticipated construction project. Mayor Schember expressed the hope that a new facility such as the one being built brings to Erie and the potential it creates for future students who will attend the merged Cathedral Prep. 

“I think there’s a lot of great things going on in downtown Erie right now,” Mayor Schember said. The fact that all young Catholic boys and girls are going to be educated here and the innovative things that are going on are really exciting and really contribute to downtown Erie. I really think this is one more sign of a very positive future … I believe that once we get through this pandemic, Erie is going to explode. There’s going to be more people moving in, more jobs here, and the kids that go to school [at Cathedral Prep] are going to get great jobs in the future.” 

Mr. Pituch, the President of Student Affairs for Cathedral Prep, Villa Maria Academy, and Mother Theresa Academy, shared the significance of such notable individuals attending the ceremonial start of the 10th Street construction and that it solidified Cathedral Prep’s importance in Erie’s Catholic education.

“This is meaningful change to be able to propel our students better into the future, better than we’ve ever done in the past,” Mr. Pituch said. “It’s awesome [to have the mayor and bishop] here. It just reminds everybody that Prep is still the center. We’re the only high school in the 16501 Zip Code and the epicenter of Catholic Education in Erie, Pennsylvania.”

The construction of the new extension to Cathedral Prep first started with the destruction of the old athletic wing, on display for all ceremony attendees to see.

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