Our Mother of Consolation Parish School expects that its rebuilding effort will be complete in time for a reopening on Sept. 24, 2024.
Our Mother of Consolation Parish School has announced the early plans of their rebuilding effort and expects to have renovations finalized in time for a reopening of the school on Sept. 24, 2024.
After a devastating fire broke out in the school on March 21, 2023, the school is bouncing back with a goal of using the rebuild as an opportunity to improve the culture and infrastructure of the school. The school and parish have been open for 160 years and include kindergarten through the 8th grades.
“Over the summer, we were invited into neighboring schools, such as Enfield Elementary, Springside Chestnut Hill, and Gwynedd Mercy Academy, to see what we could maybe improve upon,” said the pastor of the parish, John Fisher. “A new building means new expectations and new academic goals, and we will be demanding of ourselves to offer the best product.”
Plans call for a new cafeteria, an information commons that houses the library and computer workspaces, a campus ministry center, an innovation lab where students can “create, design, discover, engineer and build,” air conditioning and an elevator.
Along with these newer features, the parish school hopes to add new staff and a new sense of teaching to go along with it.
“We will have a full-time information technologist that will take care of the infrastructure; she or he can go into K through four classrooms and do push-in instructions,” Fisher said. “[They will also do] pull-out instructions for grades five to eight, which will be complementary to whatever projects they are learning.”
The school plans to keep its information commons open after school hours so that kids in the after-school program can use the additional resources.
“Our innovation lab will look at some real-world problems and see how we can address them, with grades 5th to 8th taking a different problem,” Fisher said. “We’re going to put our robotics there and whatever else we learned from our school visits, like what science labs and electronics we can run. Perhaps we’re asking for another person who can run our innovation lab.”
School officials have been meeting with the architectural firm, the Sheward Partnership, every two weeks to discuss the efforts. Plans for demolition, roof reconstruction and building renovation are all on time; they hope to have the building “weather-secured” by the end of December, according to a parish press release.
A rebuilding committee, which consists of the leadership of the Our Mother of Consolation School and Parish, the construction manager they’ve been working with, and the Sheward Partnership has been formed to handle all initiatives of the revitalization.
“We’re going to help prepare [students] to be good researchers that can carefully digest the information that we see, and to be critical thinkers,” Fisher said.
According to Pastor Fisher, the extensive plan will revolve around the implementation of the “culture and charism” that attests to their Catholic mission and highlights the three religious orders of Augustinians, Sisters of St. Joseph, and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
While most of the cost will be covered by insurance, some improvements will not.
“We will still have to raise funds. Insurance covers everything that was there before the fire and everything that wasn’t there but that is now code,” Fisher said. “For example, the elevator and sprinkling system [will be covered], but something like air conditioning, we will have to pay and raise funds for.”
Since August, the leadership of OMC has been meeting regularly with Ruotolo Associates to discuss a fundraising feasibility study. The study will be conducted to determine “how much can be possibly raised in a Catholic campaign,” Fisher said.
“It was so heartwarming that within the first week [of the fire], we’ve put signs up all over, saying ‘thank you for your prayers and support’ because it was so overwhelming,” Fisher said. “We are grateful to the entire community in the area for all of their help, whether it was through financial support or encouragement through prayers; we’ve been very blessed by different organizations and community groups.”