A ‘blessed’ day, as Cardinal Newman School opens new campus

Maryann Commins, right, teaches students at the new Cardinal Newman School campus Tuesday morning.
Maryann Commins, right, teaches students at the new Cardinal Newman School campus Tuesday morning. Jane Moon Dail/

Though Cardinal Newman School moved to a new campus Tuesday, symbolism and memories of its former location were evident throughout the building.

The school moved out of its 55-year-old Forest Acres campus last month to a 115,000-square-foot building at 2945 Alpine Road in Northeast Richland, but personalized touches helped it feel like home.

A tile with the school’s name on it sits in the center of the rotunda, which inspired students to start a new tradition.

“Since it represents our school and everything our school stands for, we’re not going to step on it,” Junior Sam Hall said. “(It would be) figuratively stepping on ourselves and our school. It doesn’t deserve that. ... We get to show our respect for it just by taking a few steps out of the way.”

Shortly after the bell rang Tuesday in the school, designed in the shape of a cross, students gingerly stepped around it.

On one side of the rotunda is the chapel, adorned with an intricate mosaic at the entrance with several personal items embedded in it, including key chains, a protractor, a rhinestone dollar sign and a peacock.

Near the main entrance, school officials buried a time capsule during construction with memories from the former campus.

Principal Jacqualine Kasprowski said students had their final day on the Forest Acres campus Dec. 18 and came back Tuesday, after a planned break for the move.

“We couldn’t think of a good reason not to (move now),” she said. “We have this beautiful facility sitting here. I surely did not want to leave it empty for six months. We were ready to go.”

The new Catholic school features a 250-seat chapel, tennis courts, a football and soccer field, a wellness center, 32 classrooms, two gymnasiums and an auditorium.

The school will start construction soon on a field house that will contain locker rooms, a weight room, storage and a wrestling and cheering room and is due sometime in the spring.

“We’ve gone from having a soccer field and football field and a gym to having everything on campus,” Athletic Director Will Eudy said. “Our kids and our families are really excited about that because everybody will be at one place now.”

Kasprowski said moving to a bigger location has been in the making for the past 20 years and allows the school to better suit student needs.

“Being here and watching the students come in ... it really was overwhelming,” Kasprowski said. “It was something we were waiting for for so long.”

Kasprowski, school principal since 2006, said the push to move to a bigger school building started before her time, about 20 years ago, which gained even more momentum in the past 10 years. The process included petitioning the pope to allow the sale of the former location and to use the proceeds for the new property.The school, under the Diocese of Charleston, acquired the 49.7 tract of land on Alpine Road in October 2009 and started construction in May 2014.

Junior Cam Tringali said the plans for the new campus have been a long time in the making.

“Just to see all of that develop into an actual, physical building, to think that we get to be a part of that is pretty special,” Tringali said.

Kasprowski said the community, especially Bishop Robert Guglielmone, have been supportive of the change.

“I have my own saying, that God always takes care of Cardinal Newman,” she said. “We have been many times blessed today. It is a joyous day for all of us.”