SHA to Celebrate Opening of new School Center

HAMDEN—The Sacred Heart community will celebrate the opening of the Academy’s new School Center on Sunday, October 6, beginning at 2 pm with a liturgy. The dedication, blessing and reception will immediately follow. Tours of the 7,250 square-foot space, completed in time for the 2019-2020 academic year, will be offered during the reception.

The new School Center, constructed in front of the original building connects the Philip Paolella, Jr. Recreational Center and the former main entrance. Visitors now enter the school from ground level in full view of the relocated main office. “We love having visitors,” said President Sr. Sheila O’Neill, ASCJ, Ph.D., ’71, “and we want them to feel welcome. This new configuration forms a central hub for the school while providing enhanced safety and security.” The president’s office, principal’s office, and offices for admissions and alumnae relations are situated near the main office, and new conference rooms provide convenient meeting space for alumnae, academic departments, the Advisory Council, and the Mothers’ and Fathers’ Clubs, among other groups. This new space—an educational, social, and cultural center—offers improved accessibility for those with physical challenges and includes a student commons and space for exhibiting student and visiting artists’ works. Relocating offices has freed up rooms in the main building for use by faculty to meet with students and parents and by students for club meetings and activities.

In 2016, the Academy embarked on Ever Higher – The Campaign for Sacred Heart Academy to raise funds for the five million dollar School Center and, in June 2018, more than 400 attendees gathered to break ground for this new space. Students, faculty and staff, alumnae, Advisory Council members, campaign cabinet and committee members, Sisters, and guests came together for First Friday mass, followed by the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony.

This project represents Phase I of the school’s ten-year master plan, spearheaded by Sr. Sheila and approved in 2015 by the Apostle’s Board of Directors and Sacred Heart Academy Advisory Council. Phases II and III, even more far-reaching, include expanding the cafeteria by flipping its orientation from horizontal to vertical, allowing space for the creation of new classrooms for fine arts and a spacious atrium for large gatherings and concerts. On the long-range drawing board in Phase III is a new building that will house a larger student commons, a faculty commons, and a theatre; the building will also benefit the sports program as former classrooms will be repurposed for athletics.

The construction company, FIP of Farmington, has extensive experience serving educational institutions, and David Thompson Architects, the New Haven-based architectural firm that designed the new School Center, is well known for having worked successfully with educational and religious communities throughout the region. Architect David Thompson (AIA) believes that this project represents an important opportunity for Sacred Heart…“Sacred Heart has built a stellar reputation for quality secondary education. The construction of the new space is important in projecting the school’s identity, linking its programs and activities into a more tightly integrated physical plant.” Thompson also notes the critical participation of the entire Sacred Heart community in shaping the design.

Founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacred Heart Academy successfully prepares young women in grades 9 through 12 for learning, service, and achievement in a global society. Sacred Heart welcomes 500 students from more than 80 schools and 60 towns in Connecticut and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

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