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Fremont school to open ahead of schedule

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FREMONT - Construction of the new Archbishop Bergan Elementary School is nearly six months ahead of schedule, which means students will attend classes there in January, Father Owen Korte, president of the Catholic school and pastor at St. Patrick Church, said Oct. 19 at a press conference at the new school.

The school, located across the street from St. Patrick Church at 1515 Johnson Road, was originally set to open next summer.

Instead, Jan., 11, 2010, will be the first day at the new school for preschool and elementary students. St. Patrick Parish religious formation students, who also will use the facility, start classes the evening of Jan. 13.

Although the beginning of the second semester has been delayed one week, Principal Katherine Griffen said it will not affect the date of the last day of school.

She and Father Korte said they're excited about the progress and the ability to move in earlier than expected.

"There's so much excitement among the teachers and the students and the parish," Griffen said. "We're blessed and grateful."

BCDM Construction and a large volunteer base have been working hard to get students into the school as soon as possible, Father Korte said.

Materials will be moved into the new school in December, with the final stage of the move planned for Jan. 4-10. Father Korte asks that all volunteer work be suspended Dec. 24-27 so families can be together during the holidays.

The new school has space for up to 300 in the primary and intermediate grades and 60 in the preschool. Current enrollment is 136 students in the kindergarten through fourth grades and about 60 in the preschool.

A capital campaign to raise $5.5 million for the new school began last year, and $4.3 million of the pledged money has been collected, Father Korte said.

He said the final cost of the project will be determined once the project is complete, but speculated the total will be lower than the initial figure.

School features

In addition to administrative offices, a gymnasium, classrooms and restrooms, the new school also will feature an art room, a computer lab, a media center/library, and a chapel.

The school will use furniture from the old St. Patrick Church downtown, including the altar, ambo, lights, pews and crucifix, in the school chapel. The Stations of the Cross will be hung on a wall near the entrance of the school.

"Anything we could pull from there and refurbish is in here," Griffen said. "That brings a lot of heart for our parishioners."

The outdoor playground and classroom area will feature a discovery table, dry creeks to collect rain water, an agricultural area for gardening, a greenhouse, and a two-tiered seating area.

A Boy Scout has volunteered to build 15 small podiums with plexi-glass tops for teachers to use throughout the area, Griffen said.



Uniting programs

For the past two and half years, Archbishop Bergan Elementary and St. Patrick Preschool students have been using separate wings of the Msgr. John Flynn Education Center downtown. The parish's religious education program also used the Flynn Center, as well as Archbishop Bergan High School, for its classes.

Now, all parish religious formation programs - the preschool, elementary school and religious education - will take place in the same location.

The parish's religious formation office will move to St. Patrick Church.

Eventually, Archbishop Bergan High School will move to the St. Patrick campus, Griffen said.

Not only will the education programs be united, but also the school and church exterior appearance, Father Korte said. Both buildings will share the same brick exterior and the same Celtic cross above the entrances.

DEDICATION MASS

Archbishop George J. Lucas will preside at a dedication Mass and ceremony for the new Archbishop Bergan Elementary School Jan. 3, 2010. A 9 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick Church will precede the 11 a.m. blessing and dedication ceremony that will take place across the street at the school.

Tours of the new facility will take place Jan. 3, 2010, from 10 to 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as Jan. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m.

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