Cardinal Newman High School is moving forward with plans to build a new 50-acre campus on Alpine Road in Northeast Richland.
The new campus will include more space for athletic and academic facilities, a welcome change for those at the current campus that sits on 12 acres in Forest Acres.
“We’re kind of busting at the seams here because we’re so landlocked,” said Bob Watson, the dean of facilities and operations at the Catholic Church-owned school.
He said the new facilities to will provide space for athletic practices – a huge void at the current campus, because students have to go off campus to attend sports practices.
“We have kids that drive all over the city to go to their practices,” Watson said.
Watson is a 1973 alumnus. His family has gone through the school. He is one of seven siblings who attended the school and the football field is named after his father, George R. Watson. Watson’s son just graduated from Cardinal Newman and was quarterback of the football team, playing on the field named for his grandfather.
“I can’t wait to get in the new school, but I’m not going to be anywhere around” when they demolish the current campus, Watson said.
He said he anticipates being in the new campus by the 2015 academic year, or moving during the Christmas break of that year at the latest. If that happens, he said winter break could be extended by a month, with the school year possibly extending into June.
Enrollment is close to pushing 500 students, and the new building would be able to hold 750, said principal Jacqualine Kasprowski.
“We really need to step out and get ourselves a full campus where we can adequately take care of a larger number of students,” she said.
Kasprowski said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston gave permission to sell the property of the current school, and proceeds from the sale of the current property will go toward to building the new school. She said many people have been interested in the property near the busy Forest Drive-Trenholm Road intersection, but no sale has been finalized.
“I’m so excited to be in a new facility and to be able to expand,” said Candi Watson, who is dean of academics and is married to Bob Watson.
She said the school offers extensive art programs that include ceramics and studio art.
“Our art teachers are teaching in these very small classrooms, and what they accomplish with these kids is incredible considering the physical limitations,” she said.
She also said that for years the music room was next to other classrooms. “We don’t want to do away with our music program, but at the same time we want our kids to be able to hear teachers instructing,” she said.
A temporary solution was devised – moving the music program to a house adjacent to campus – but students have to move music equipment weekly to set up for Mass.
Watson said about once a week, a drama student asks to go into the attic of the school – and they have to give her a warning because when the attic stairs are pulled down, she is briefly trapped in her office. “Every nook and cranny in this school is used,” she said.