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Bishop Ireton opens new wing

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Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria officially opened a new wing of its building in a Feb. 3 ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the school’s new cafeteria. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge blessed the space and cut the ceremonial ribbon with diocesan Superintendent of Schools Joseph Vorbach.

 The construction project marks the biggest renovation in school history, said Head of School Kathleen McNutt. “I am overwhelmed with joy by this day,” she said. “This has been a long time coming for this school and it’s such a gift for the students to have it completed.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Superintendent of Schools Joseph Vorbach cut the ceremonial ribbon. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

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 During the opening ceremony, McNutt thanked the many people who worked together to make the project a reality. “As Bishop Ireton entered the 21st century, the technological revolution and the national focus on STEM instruction called for needed changes on Cambridge Road. Thanks to the vision, dedication, persistence and amazing efforts of (community leaders), the plan for this academic center, a new front entrance and a new auxiliary gymnasium came to life,” she said.

So far, the school has raised $5.6 million of the $6.5 million they hope to raise through the capital campaign they began two years ago at the start of construction. 

To make space for the new wing, the former residence of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who originally staffed the school, was torn down in 2017. Now in its place is an airy cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating, a teachers’ dining room and acoustic ceiling panels in Ireton’s colors: red and yellow. On the level above the cafeteria is the new library, which has individual study rooms and outdoor seating. Come spring, ivy will crawl up the metal lattice, called a bio-wall, above the patio. 

McNutt believes it’s the students’ favorite new addition. “The old library was really a combination of two small classrooms,” she said. “The new library is a well-thought out and planned space with learning areas, stacks, study rooms, a lab and a separate library classroom, so it's a whole new space for them. They can make of it what they need — (a space for) project-based learning, quiet study, or they can just have some down time.”

Other new additions include STEM labs, with a classroom for robotics. The new auxiliary gym has a basketball hoop, a wall of mirrors and the Ireton cardinal emblazoned on the floor. 

At the close of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Bishop Burbidge thanked the Ireton community. “You’ve provided (the students) such a special gift, where every day they come into a safe, joyful environment, grow in their relationship with the Lord and each other, advance in learning and have a smile on their faces,” he said. “You have every reason to be extremely proud of the great opportunity you've given to our students.”

This story has been updated. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020