Bishop Garrigan launches construction

ALGONA – Bishop Garrigan High School has broken ground on its $3 million addition.

“It’s the first since the school was originally built in 1959,” Lynn Miller, Bishop Garrigan president, said. “We’re going to add a gymnasium, additional class space, additional office space, some more lockers and storage.”

The construction comes as Bishop Garrigan readies to transition its grades four through six from the school’s Seton campus to the main Garrigan campus.

“Right now, our pre-K is housed at Seton, which is owned by the St. Cecelia Parish,” Miller said. “The old building will come down and they’re going to build a new parish center in the future. That’s why we need to shift students around, and better use our space.”

With the transition comes opportunity, Miller said.

“When Bishop Garrigan was built there were no girls sports in 1959. In this day and age, there are just so many activities,” he said. “We also have a lot of drama, quiz bowl. All kinds of things. Our one gym, I call it the gym that never sleeps, kids start practice at 6:15 in the morning, a lot of times there are still lights on at 10 at night. We just need another area. This new gym will become our main athletic venue.”

Inside the building, the Catholic school’s renovation efforts continue.

“We’re retrofitting all of the lights, for two reasons,” Miller said. “T-12 (fluorescent) bulbs are not going to be made in the future, so we’re retrofitting with T-8s. We’ve got about two-thirds of that done already. And they’re more cost-efficient. As you look at your general budget for the year, you’re starting to see energy savings.”

He added, “We’re really trying to get this building set for the next 50 years.”

Bishop Garrigan is also working to incorporate more technology into its curriculum for its students, Miller said.

“In the last five years we’ve modernized and upgraded a lot of our classrooms,” he said. “We’re all wireless now. We have a good wireless backbone. We’re not totally one-to-one. We’re more approaching the individual technology integration concept, so a lot of times kids can use their own devices as well as school-provided devices.”

The construction follows a successful capital campaign, Christy Peterson, Bishop Garrigan High School principal, said.

“We are really grateful for the generosity of our supports, alumni, past parents of Bishop Garrigan, because we fairly quickly raised the money that we needed for this,” she said. “It’s a lot of money for us, but we’ve been very blessed with contributors who are willing to step up.”

According to Miller, $2 million has already been collected, with a five-year pledge period.

“We are debt-free, as a school,” he said. “Our goal will be that, once we get this addition built, that within the next three years, we will be debt-free again. Obviously, we may have to borrow a little bit while we’re waiting for pledges to come in, but we want to keep our overhead and our debt down to zero.”

Miller said the promise of the addition has had a positive effect on the school.

“Anytime you do things like this it creates excitement for everybody, so you see a higher energy,” he said. “The other thing I think it does it shows the general population that we’re stable, we’re planning for the future, and we have a good future.”

Bishop Garrigan’s recent growth has been exciting, Peterson said.

“It’s always exciting to think of bringing new students into a building, and it brings challenges, but challenges also create growth and continual vision,” she said. “It’s also important that we maintain stability.”

Construction of the addition is expected to be completed by August 2015.