Groundbreaking held for St. Patrick's School

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 16, 2013 

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi compared St. Patrick's School in Phenix City to the mythological phoenix.

"It is rising from the ashes to be reborn," the archbishop of Mobile said Sunday at a groundbreaking for a new school building on 40th Street.

St. Patrick's lost its facility to fire in January of 2010 and students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade have been attending classes in a building on the campus that is a former convent.

The new home to St. Patrick's is a $2.8 million project.

It will be 15,000 square feet and is being constructed on what is now a field used for athletics.

Jack Mazzola Sr. of CAM Builders said the construction is on a 300-day schedule. He hopes to begin construction soon but did not have en exact date.

The Rev. Tom Weise, pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church, said the money for the new school is already in hand and that the construction is a "dream come true," for him.

School board president Brenda Clark said about $1 million of that is insurance money and the rest is coming from donations.

Clark said a frayed power line running to the school caused the electrical fire in the afternoon. Students were in the school but all got out safely.

"The attic was engulfed. It was terrible, a total loss," she said.

She said that at the time of the fire, the school had about 60 students but, in spite of the makeshift facility, enrollment has risen to 112.

"We're still growing," she said.

One reason for the growth, she explained, is that St. Patrick's is meeting the needs of a lot of children with learning disabilities.

"We truly believe in no child left behind," she said.

The groundbreaking was a great occasion for assistant principal Terry Gallups. She and her sister both attended the school where their mother was a longtime teacher.

"I was just horrified with what the fire did but we never gave up because we know how important this school is," Gallups said. "Catholic schools are the future of the Catholic church."

Weise said that when he came to Phenix City in 1997, the school had been closed been closed for about four years but in 1999 it opened again.

"It is a good school that is going to see some great days ahead with this new building. It is good for St. Patrick's and for Phenix City."

"This new school shows that there is a lot of confidence in the Phenix City, Columbus area," Rodi said. "It is a sign of hope and a commitment to education of the whole student, academically, athletically, socially and spiritually. We are building for the future."

Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe was present for the ceremony.

Lowe told those present at the site, "Let's keep the excitement and enthusiasm."

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