We’ve broken ground and excavation and ground work is soon to follow. The completion date of the new John Bapst Practice Gymnasium and Fitness Center is October, 2020!
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to what I hope will be fun few minutes together as we celebrate what’s called a “groundbreaking”—the moment when we officially begin the construction of our new practice gymnasium and fitness center.
Do you remember the last one of these for John Bapst? I don’t think so; in fact there isn’t a single person here today who was alive the last time John Bapst broke ground on a new building. Maybe you’ve seen the cornerstone of the main John Bapst building at the corner of Broadway and Somerset; in Roman numerals, that stone says 1927—92 years ago. Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States, Babe Ruth was playing right field for the New York Yankees, and a man named Charles Lindbergh had just flown across the Atlantic.
A year from now, we will have our new building, and it will be a building for all of us. Every student who takes PE will have the chance to take the class in a brand-new facility. Every student will have the chance to get comfortable with exercise equipment in preparation for a healthy adult life.
And our new building isn’t just for all of us, it’s made possible by all of us. Students and their families have contributed. Faculty and staff have contributed. Businesses like Bangor Savings—here today as our financing partner on the project—have contributed. Alumni have contributed. We’ve received donations from across the state of Maine and from all over the U.S. We’ve received donations from China, Korea, Vietnam, and other countries—all so encouraging. Those many hundreds of donations have allowed us to get started on our $3.8-million athletic center.
A groundbreaking would not be complete without the chance to move some dirt, and so in a couple of minutes I’ll be outside with some very important people. As much as I wanted to let 535 grab a shovel and be part of the ceremony, what I have had to do instead is to ask three students from each class to represent the students of John Bapst.
And keeping us connected to our history, refounders Earle Hannigan and Joe Sekera are here with us today. I don’t know if all of the students are aware that in 1980 John Bapst almost closed, and thus without the dedication of these men, along with John MacKay and Bill Lindsay, to keep the school alive, none of us would be here today.
So … a year from now we’ll be moving into a beautiful new facility thanks to Nickerson & O’Day. But we will not be done. Our plans call for a second phase. Imagine: future students will enter the school in the morning and go to the current gym to hang out, have a cup of coffee or have breakfast. John Bapst community events like team dinners happen in that dining hall and kitchen, and for boarding students, the beautiful new dining hall will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Above the new kitchen and connected to the Music Wing and the Art Wing will be a big new Technology and Innovation Center, so important to our successful, growing programs in technology and engineering.
For that dream to come true as soon as possible, we need help. We need everyone who loves this school to dig deep one more time and make a donation. Buy a brick if you haven’t yet. Dollar by dollar and brick by brick, help us finish both phases of the project and give students the facilities they need.