By Bonny Van
The Catholic Commentator
From concerts to choirs and from Masses to mass gatherings, St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge will soon have a new building that will play host to such events and more. A groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the new 22,000 square-foot multipurpose building was held on Monday, April 23.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held April 23 for the new multipurpose building for St. Michael the Archangel. Pictured, from left, Jeff Larson, SMHM advisory board president; Ellen Lee, principal of SMHS; Dr. Melanie Verges, superintendent; Bishop Robert W. Muench; Jay Hebert, architect; Guy Hopkins, contractor; Thad Rispone, benefactor; and, Brock Sanders, SMHS student body president. Photos by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator
Plans for the facility have been in the works for four years with fundraisers aimed at getting the $6.4 million dollar project started. Besides providing much needed space for the school, the new building will have state-of-the art equipment for a variety of productions that might include actors, athletes or musicians.
“It will also serve as a place for liturgy,” explained SMHS principal Ellen Lee. “Right now, we have a physical stage that we have to put up and take down but this will allow us to have a permanent place to have programs that require a stage or some sort of elevated surface.”
There will also be backstage dressing rooms and new lockers. Currently, the school’s lockers are located in a different area than the gym.
“This will enhance our physical education and athletics program by allowing students to have that locker room facility right there,” said Lee.
Athletic director Rob Smith said he is excited to see the construction begin, and added that this is another way that the school can enhance students’ lives.
“Currently, when we have basketball and volleyball practice, they’re having to use the same gym and one team has to practice after the other one,” said Smith. “This will help with that and we’ll be able to get kids home earlier for more family time, more time with friends and more time to spend on homework.”
The school’s gym, built five years after the 34-year-old school was constructed, will continue to host the school’s basketball and volleyball games; however, the multipurpose building, with it’s new sport court floor, will provide extra space during tournaments.
The multipurpose building will also double as the band room, allowing the band to practice without disrupting other classes.
“The band will be isolated and sound proofed in the new building,” explained Lee, “so that when you have band class, you’re not listening in the math class to the music from the band class.”
Construction on the multipurpose facility is expected to take a year to complete.