BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – A $6 million building campaign was the kickstart of the 2017 Catholic Schools week for the Holy Trinity School systems on Monday.
More than 400 people packed the Holy Trinity Catholic gymnasium in West Point Monday to kick off the campaign with school and local officials speaking to the group after a mass was celebrated.
Dennis Menke, the campaign chairman, along with wife Kate, for the Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School project, said he was hoping to raise the money in six months, but he knew it was a big ask.
“It’s my hope that we can raise this money in six months,” he said. “That way we would start construction at the end of the school year. Our archdiocese in Davenport mandates that we have a minimum of 60% of the funds before we can begin work. That means we would need $3.6 million to start the work.”
HTC Chief Administration Officer Michael Sheerin said he had to leave immediately after the ceremonies due to his daughter giving birth.
“What a great day to share possibly the birth of our first grandchild and the birth of this wonderful project to send us into generations to come,” Sheerin said.
Brian Foecke, the HTC Foundation Board president addressed the crowd first.
“I didn’t actually look it up, but I’d bet it’s been around 50 years since a new catholic school building has been built in Lee County, Iowa. Think about that…50 years,” Foecke said.
Several dignitaries spoke to the audience including Davenport Diocese Superintendent Lee Morrison; Brad Box, HTC School Board president, and Father Bruce DeRammelaere, about the rich heritage and history of the Catholic school system in Lee County.
Then Sheerin and principal Bob Carr led a parade of kindergartners singing the Seven Dwarfs mantra, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work I go,” donned in yellow construction hats and some carrying shovels.
The project will entail demolishing the current school buildings aside from the gym and rebuilding it to make the whole campus enclosed for greater efficiency and security and to bring the facilities into the 21st century.
“The project will replace the entire school campus for the elementary students at HTC,” said Menke. “We need to replace our school because it’s over 100 years old and it doesn’t fit the style. They don’t teach school and classes the way they did 100 years ago. Students today need an environment they can learn in. There are no such things as blackboards and chalk anymore. It all has to do with I-pads and computers. This current campus can’t be retrofitted to work the way we want it to.”
“This will get us a new building, a new cafeteria and restrooms that will be connected to the gym. So when we have games and activities in the gym we can have the cafeteria right there and it will be very user friendly.”
Menke said after the kickoff event today, efforts will get underway to communicate with alumni and community partners to help educate possible donors about the facility.
“Right now we’re kicking this off. But our next thing will be to contact people away from here, the alumni, with folders and letters of explanation and how it’s all going to happen. After that phase is done, I’d say a couple of weeks, then we will set up private parties, 20-25 couples to a party and explain what we need and how they can help,” Menke said.
He said a website has also been set up for credit and debit card contributions at HTCcampaign.org.
Sheerin said aside from the obvious physical changes to the building, it’s what happens on the inside the really matters. He said the new building will allow greater collaboration of teachers and students in contemporary learning environments that will allow teachers to use modern technology to help educate the system’s children.
“We as adults are still freaking about an iPhone and these kids are working it, ” Sheerin said. “Our kindergartners and 6th graders can work together. We can do music and art where everyone can mix it up.”
“The exciting thing is that we can take this back to the idea of the one-room school house. It’s come full circle.”