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Construction at Bishop Ireton will make way for advancing academics

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Not only are they forming the minds of students at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, they are in the process of constructing a new three-story building to enhance the educational experience.

Demolition of the Oblate House, a building on campus that was originally built as dorms for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and recently served as administrative office space and classrooms, will make way for new classrooms, a new library and new cafeteria.


Denise Tobin, Ireton principal, said the school is moving in the direction of a rigorous STEM program and new science labs will contribute to that effort. The robotics lab will house 3D printers.

“(The new building) will move us down the road with 21st century learning and equipment,” said Tobin. “It will enhance the curriculum for college and STEM careers.”

Tom Curry, head of school, said the curriculum has kept pace with educational innovations, but the facilities needed upgrading to support those enhancements.

“By renovating parts of our older building and constructing new collaborative learning environments, we will also become more energy efficient and reduce operating costs,” he said.

Tobin wants to make sure Ireton is teaching everything they need. “We are rethinking the curriculum to gear it up for this critical thinking,” she said.

The focus is on excellence in all academic areas, and Tobin acknowledged the strength of the science department, including an award-winning teacher, Sonia Faletti.

“(The current building) lacks the space and new equipment this building will provide,” she said.

The basement level will house the robotics lab and the new cafeteria will be on first floor. The third floor will house the new library, which will include areas for small group student or faculty collaboration for research or meetings, and a class-size area for meetings and research. Science labs will be housed on the top floor.

“We also are looking toward laboratory space for future advanced research projects possibly including a biosafety lab for cell culture, microbiology, genetics and small animal behavioral projects,” said Tobin.

The existing school building will add classrooms where the cafeteria and library were.

Jason Louis, construction manager for the diocesan Office of Planning, Construction and Facilities, said the project is a modernization of the school with the goal of increasing enrollment. Phase I and II includes the demolition of the Oblate House and the summer work, which cost $2.1 million. Coakley and Williams Construction were the contractors for the summer renovations. Contractors for the new building have not yet been chosen. 

The Oblate House was the site of extensive training exercises for the Alexandria Fire Department earlier this summer. Construction of the new building will start by early summer 2018.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017