Cathedral High School Construction Nearly Complete

-Brother Nick Gonzalez,  FSC
President, Cathedral High School

As Cathedral High School begins its’ 90th year, it does so with a major reconstruction and fresh face. The Cathedral High School, Inc. Board, chaired by Bishop Mark Joseph Seitz, DD, voted to request a $1.45 million loan to install much-needed HVAC and repair the patio in the original 1923 Building. Students finished final exams on a Thursday afternoon and construction began that Saturday at 5:30 AM! The summer construction schedule was tight but it was met and students were able to return on 10 August 2015.

The HVAC contract was awarded to the Garick Group. CEO Gary Paul Porras ’90 personally oversaw a good deal of the construction. The most notable difference is invisible – it has to be felt. There is now refrigerated air conditioning in every classroom and office. The old gym, football locker room and the Guereca Auditorium also now have HVAC. Every inch of the academic building (except for the Old Gym) was painted eggshell white with official Notre Dame blue and gold accent walls. The Vandenburg Library now boasts a stained polished concrete floor. There is a tremendous improvement in lighting with most of fixtures throughout the old and new buildings replaced to provide more efficient and brighter lighting. Ceilings in the old building were dropped to help contain sound, hide the new venting and lighting systems. All of the classrooms doors on the third floor have been replaced to improve security and improve cooling.  Windows in the 1923 Building which faced Stanton and all around the old gym balcony have been replaced with large energy-efficient tinted windows. The results are some beautiful views of the historic neighborhood and Franklin Mountains. Student leaders were involved in helping to move back into the building and to assist with the massive cleanup effort. Alumni and parent groups have been universally impressed by the significant upgrades.  “We tell parents that student grades should now rise because they can’t blame the heat of the day for low grades,” joked principal Aurora Lujan. Students are very proud of the new look and feel of their school.

The contract for the demolition of the second story patio in the 1923 Building and covering the ancient pool underneath was awarded to VEMAC. The demolition was very delicate work as the girders underneath the patio could not be disturbed. After demolishing the rest of the patio, the work crew focused on reinforcing the girders. The pool is directly underneath the patio and has not been used for several decades. Steel girders with metal sheets were put in place to support a concrete slab. It is hoped that, in time, funds will be raised to pay for two Fine Arts classrooms to be built in this space. The first pour on the patio has been completed and the second pour will be colored concrete which will be stamped. “This project will make the patio available for alumni gatherings. This was the entrance to the old building so alumni knew this space well,” noted Brother Nick Gonzalez. VEMAC is run by Oscar Venegas and his son, David, is an alumnus.

The Cathedral High School community is blessed to have generous and faithful alumni and parents who support such school improvement. For example, in planning for their reunion, the Class of 1990 inquired about the needs of the school and committed to paying for a new stage curtain for the Guereca Auditorium.  Two years ago, the Class of 1964 also asked about the needs of the school. They decided to pay an architect for initial designs and renderings of alternate uses of the pool and patio spaces. Please contact Brother Nick Gonzalez (ngonzalez80@cathedral-elpaso.org) if your class and/or you are interested in helping Cathedral in its’ best and ninth decade.

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RGC Sept _Page_6_Image_0004 Gary Porras, Paul Porras, Bishop Mark Seitz, and Brother Nick tour the work in June which saw large pieces of machinery line North Stanton Street through much of the summer.
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