Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

June 5, 2014

A step forward for St. Augustine's gym

Fundraising walk supports $2M construction project

Thanks to the legs and lungs of the students of St. Augustine School, a new gymnasium is $32,000 closer to reality.

On Monday, the 450 students of the Catholic day school in town walked around The Park in front of the town offices three times as well as their school as part of the third annual event to raise money for the gym.

The private, downtown school for students in kindergarten through grade eight is on track to build a $2 million gymnasium starting this summer. With about $1.3 million in the bank for the project, there is enough money to start construction, as the school plans to borrow — and continue raising money for — the rest, Principal Paula O’Dea said.

In a week or so, the school will sign with a contractor, who should then begin work on the 6,915-square-foot project.

School officials say the Centennial Gymnasium is a much-needed upgrade for the campus on Central Street, as the students there have never had their own gym.

Currently, the school is forced to lease a large room from the Knights of Columbus on Brook Street to accommodate gym classes. It also uses Andover High School’s facilities for home basketball games.

The gym should be completed by January, O’Dea said. With a visit from Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley scheduled for December, O’Dea said school officials are hoping the gym is mostly done by then.

O’Dea credited Lisa Dello Russo and Angela Dulac, co-chairwomen of the gym fundraising committee, for their persistence and organizational skills.

“They’ve done a great job,” she said, as the two lugged coolers filled with ice and water back into their cars once the fundraising walk was finished around 1 p.m. Monday.

For the past two years, the fundraising walks were carried out despite downpours, with the students insisting on ignoring the weather and marching to raise money nonetheless.

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