CRANSTON — Diocesan and civic leaders and members of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School community gathered Dec. 8 — the feast day of the parish and school’s patroness — for the formal dedication and blessing of the diocese’s newest school to be built in 40 years.
Prior to the ceremony, Father Ronald E. Brassard celebrated a dedication Mass in the parish church, and was assisted by Deacon Thomas Raspallo.
“Today is the completion of the process we began two-and-a-half years ago,” Father Brassard noted in his homily.
“This day is very much about you,” he told the students. “This school is a gift to you. This school is a sign of how much God loves you.”
The students at Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School formerly attended Cranston Johnston Catholic Regional School in Cranston, which closed last month.
The new 46,000-square foot facility cost $9.5 Million and has 15 classrooms, a 200 seat theater, a music studio, computer lab, a 3,000 foot media center/library equipped with wireless technology, three art galleries, the Stephen Procopiadi Science Laboratory, and a full court gymnasium with bleachers.
Every middle school classroom, as well as the art, music and computer rooms are equipped with a “smart board,” an interactive white board much like a computer screen that is used to enhance classroom presentations.
“This ceremony, while simple and direct, has profound implications for our parish and our diocese,” Father Brassard remarked at the dedication event. “This school symbolizes the vitality and giftedness of Catholic education.
“A Catholic education makes a difference,” he continued. “It makes a difference because it is rooted in faith and in a profound sensitivity and gratitude for the gift of life itself. It is that gratitude to God, that thanksgiving for all that God has done for us, that is at the heart of our faith.”
Father Brassard thanked Bishop Tobin and diocesan officials for their continued support, as well as those who prayed for the success of the school project from its groundbreaking in October 2008 to the school opening last month.
Deacon Raspallo, who served as principal of Cranston Johnston Catholic Regional School from 1993-1998 and 2000-2002, described the new facility as “a dream come true.
“It enhances the programs we always wished we could have — and now we can have,” he said, noting that the new science laboratory will provide students with more opportunities to conduct experiments and expand their knowledge. He added that the school’s large gymnasium rivals many high school and college facilities.
The deacon, who serves on the school’s board of directors and chairs the education committee, also served as member of design committee for the new school. He said that the CJCR needed extensive repairs which would have cost an estimated $1.5 Million and even had those repairs been made, the refurbished school would still not be able to accommodate the innovative programs that the faculty sought to conduct.
“It was an amazing experience to see it go from vision to blueprint to reality,” he said, mentioning the inclement weather that the area experienced last winter and early spring, which hampered progress.
The new school, which accommodates 352 students in grades Pre-K—8, was designed by Mark Saccocio and Stephen Guglielmo of Saccoccio Architects, Cranston, and was built by Turgeon Construction.
“We were grateful that we were selected for this project and to realize this dream for the diocese,” said Guglielmo. “We are proud of this building.”
Daniel Kantor, a Minneapolis-based graphic designer and author of the book “Graphic Design and Religion” designed the school’s logo, depicting .
“Something that is beautiful is truthful,” said?Kantor, noting that the logo appears throughout the school where is has been stenciled on floors, as well as on signage and embroidered on students’ uniforms.
Dr. David Beaudoin, diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education and Evangelization, emphasized the new school was a marvelous accomplishment.
“This is a great day for Catholic education in the Diocese of Providence and because of the vision and commitment of Father Brassard and the parishioners of Immaculate Conception Parish, we have a brand new, state-of-the-art school,” Dr. Beaudoin said. “I’m sure that the parents of the boys and girls that will be educated here are very pleased. Their children will receive an excellent Catholic education in this new school building.”
Students Thomas McDonough and Emily Pierce spoke of how the school’s advanced technology will enhance the education of its students.
McDonough noted that many of his peers had long dreamed of a new school with the same staff and students, and described the modern facility as “outstanding.” Pierce noted that when diocesan and school officials, parents and students gathered in October 2008 for a groundbreaking ceremony on an “open field,” it was “ the start of a dream come true.
“The technology makes our school a better place to learn,” she said, adding that the dedication ceremony was an “amazing event” that will become a part of local and Rhode Island history.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, noting that he was privileged to attend the dedication ceremony, noted that the new school was “truly an amazing project.
“Thanks to everyone who came together to make this dream become a reality,” he said, noting that the successful endeavor was accomplished as a result of teamwork.
He praised Father Brassard, likening the pastor’s role to a quarterback, who kept everyone involved in the school project enthused and energized. Father Brassard received a standing ovation in gratitude for his dedicated efforts.
Bishop Tobin added that the new school was a “great gift to the community, diocese, state and to almighty God.”
Recalling the words of the late Pope John Paul II, Bishop Tobin told those gathered that the “purpose of Catholic education is salvation in Jesus Christ.
“Never lose sight of that goal,” he told the students. The bishop added that the three principle goals of Catholic education are to teach the faith, form community and encourage community service.
“This is what this Catholic school will do so well,” Bishop Tobin emphasized.
The dedication ceremony concluded with the blessing and presentation of medals of the Blessed Mother to the students and staff.