Thursday, October 14, 2004

Seton High School details expansion plan

Neighborhood relieved that crime won't deter institution

By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer

PRICE HILL - News of Seton High School's proposed $15 million expansion is a beacon of light in a community that is battling crime.

Educators from the all-girls Catholic school revealed plans for expansion, the largest at the school in recent memory, during a Price Hill neighborhood meeting on crime Tuesday.

These are the most recent Catholic school projects in Price Hill:

Elder High School: $6 million capital campaign raised money for endowments; expanded science lab, fitness center and bookstore; and Schaeper Center, which houses five computer labs, a computer-aided design lab, library, music department, music hall, and assembly hall that seats 300. The Schaeper Center, which used $3.1 million of the $6 million, opened in 2002.

Seton High School: Embarking on $9.5 million capital campaign for endowments and building expansion. A gymnasium would be built first. Also on the wish list are a parking garage, new science labs, cafeteria, enhanced guidance facilities and infrastructure upgrades. If the entire site plan is built, the cost of the construction would total $15 million.

St. William Elementary: $100,000 for renovated, state-of-the art science lab with six work stations with seating for 30 students. Work stations house microscopes, beakers, test tubes, dissection equipment and safety gear. A multimedia center in the lab features a wireless computer and other electronic gear. The renovation, which took place over the summer, was funded by money from Auxiliary Services through the state of Ohio, and from private donors. A blessing and dedication will take place at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 20.

Seton's plans and recent expansion at Elder High School provide a psychological boost to residents.

"It's huge," said Pete Witte, president of the Price Hill Civic Club.

"I can't stress the importance of Elder and Seton High School as being anchor tenants, not only in the business district here on Glenway, but Price Hill in general.

"To see them investing the kinds of dollars in Price Hill is just a wonderful sign of their commitment to Price Hill, but it also means a lot that they are deepening their roots in Price Hill. They are firmly planted here, and they have no reason to go elsewhere," said Witte, an Elder graduate and owner of Baron Engraving, a few blocks from his alma mater.

Linda Tracy Gill, president of Seton High School, said Seton's board approved a master site plan in January, and the school has been quietly raising money for five months to make that plan a reality. The school is about to enter a public phase of fund-raising in the next few weeks. A planning and construction firm has been hired.

"The board will be deciding what will be built in the next several months," Gill said. If the entire plan is built, the cost would be $15 million. However, Gills said, the result of fund-raising will determine what can be built.

In a list of identified priorities, a new gymnasium will be built first. Also on the list are a parking garage, new science labs, cafeteria and infrastructure upgrades. Construction at the 600-student school could begin in mid-2005.

Seton hopes to raise $9.5 million, which would be used for construction and building up the school's endowment. "We want to make a Seton education available to people who want it," Gill said.

In any event, Seton is not about to let crime drive it from the neighborhood.

"This is our home," she said. "Seton has a long, rich history in Price Hill. We will graduate our 78th class on June 2, 2005."

Meanwhile, Elder opened its new, $3.1 million Schaeper Center in 2002. The money was part of $6 million raised to build the center, increase endowments and renovate other areas of the high school.

In the summer of 2003, the school also bought a building that had burned a decade ago on Iliff Avenue. The school razed the building, extended its fenceline and expanded its on-site parking. The project cost about $400,000.

Elder, an all-boys school with 1,073 students, has remained committed to the neighborhood since it was founded in 1922, said Sean Kelley, Elder spokesman.

"It's here in Price Hill, and it's going to stay in Price Hill. We're going to do what we've always done," he said. "By us remaining a strong institution, that, in turn, helps the community. We definitely look at ourselves and Seton High School as two of the biggest anchors in the community."

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