St. Peter’s School reopens after ‘a semester abroad’

St. Peter’s students react to the newly remodeled school upon entering for their first day back on Jan. 8 after their ‘semester abroad.’ (photo courtesy/David Shaughnessy)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — January 8 was an exciting day for the 470 students of St. Peter’s School. Their school reopened after being renovated.

Father Steve Cook, pastor of St. Peter Parish, announced in July 2016 that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph had approved a 3-year, $6.2 million capital campaign. The campaign was to include, among other things, renovation of the north school building and the eventual construction of a narthex between the church and the school.

The entire school — student body, teachers and 30 truckloads of desks and chairs, equipment, library books, and school records — came home following “a semester abroad,” a few blocks away at the old Southwest High School. Some new classrooms were added, for example, three kindergarten classes are joined by a hallway so that the classes can easily interact. Seventh and eighth grades are close together, and first graders have three classrooms also. Several seventh and eighth grade classrooms, including Math, religion and language arts, feature wheeled desks and chairs so students can group together for collaborative projects and discussions. There is new HVAC, new LED lighting, a new entrance and more windows. Hallways have been widened, increasing accessibility. There is a new stairway, completely enclosed in glass, new flooring and carpeting in much of the north building and, some of the original limestone, stained glass and tile have been restored and are displayed in the building. The original stonework, dating from 1928-29, was restored and gifted to the parish and school by Fogle Anderson, the contractor. The display of the limestone is on the second floor near the old chapel and was on the southwest exterior corner of the original school. Yellow tiled columns from the original gym have been made part of the new art room.

A new glass narthex/gathering space is nearing completion which will connect the school and the church, and is expected to be used by both school and parish groups.

Although the freshly painted walls have to cure for several weeks before anything can be hung on them, there is a brightness throughout the school — happy faces and new lighting, as well as many windows.

The new glass-enclosed entrance opens up the east side of the school with a new stairway and a great source of natural light. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

Fifth grader Addison Reardon looked around and said, “I think it’s awesome! It’s big and pretty. The learning environment, the classrooms are big and awesome. It’s really cool to be back in school here!”

The new circle drive on the Meyer Blvd. side of the school, has been dedicated to Sally Eagan Euston, the longtime school secretary who died in July 2016.

Vice principal Angie Meyer said teachers were able to begin moving back in Jan. 3., but there were still packing materials, dust and other construction debris that needed to be cleaned up. Volunteers from the parish, school parents, alumni and neighbors came to help.

Jan. 8 dawned cold and rainy, but as the students arrived, lugging backpacks and grocery sacks packed with their school belongings, their faces broke into smiles.

Shea McGraw, an eighth grader, entered the building through the south entrance of Charlotte Street, and at first didn’t see much difference. Then she saw the “new glass staircase,” and declared that her favorite part of the school.

Mary Omecene, principal of the school, commented on the willingness of the parish and school staff and families and the other volunteers who pitched in to get the school in readiness for the students’ return. “What I saw here was the goodness of people,” she said. “A positive attitude, and a good-hearted spirit are alive and well at St. Peter’s!”

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August 16, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph