Photo by Kelly White
Cardinal Blasé Cupich blessed Monastery Hall, a 28,000-square-foot 10-lab science wing with a planetarium, during a dedication ceremony at the Marist High School, 4200 W. 115th St., Chicago, on Sunday afternoon.
By Kelly White
Marist High School’s new science center received a special blessing this past Sunday.
Cardinal Blasé Cupich blessed Monastery Hall, a 28,000-square-foot 10-lab science wing with a planetarium, during a dedication ceremony called, “Faith in the Future: Transforming Marist for the 21 st Century,” at the high school, 4200 W. 115 th St., Chicago.
“We live in an era where science and faith are often presented in conflict,” Cupich said. “Yet, my hope would be that Marist has created such a curiosity and awe and wonder among students that they will dig deeper into understanding their faith. This world is created with such complexity. Through this science wing, science and faith will be merged to carry on education to the next generation.”
Each of the 10 labs within the new science center is dedicated to a specific branch of science, and every student at Marist who is enrolled in a science course will benefit from Monastery Hall, school officials said.
The planetarium dome was designed and installed by Spitz, which has provided domes for the Adler Planetarium in downtown Chicago. The 30-seat space brought to life the opportunity and advancement for the high school to launch a brand-new astronomy curriculum developed by leading astronomy educator, Dr. David Bradstreet.
A coral reef aquarium, installed by Something Fishy, Inc., was also incorporated into the science curriculum.
Some of its other key features include a glass-walled space mimicking a hospital room in the anatomy and physiology lab, where students can interact with two life-like size HAL computer-controlled mannequins, a pediatric patient and a newborn infant, made by the manufacturer Gaumard Scientific Company. A 3-D viewer created by Zygote permits students to use a touch screen menu to explore the muscular or skeletal system.
As a senior at Marist High School on her way to pursuing a career in nursing, Brigid Englehart, the student body president at the school., said the new science wing is helping pave the way towards her future.
“The anatomy labs are state-of-the-art,” said Englehart, 17, of Palos Heights. “The labs are comparable to most colleges and it’s really exciting to have this at Marist. I know when I head off to college to pursue my degree, I’ll be set.”
A brand-new forensic lab with a protected space was also added, which gives students the ability not only to demonstrate crime scenes and collect evidence, but also to bring evidence in the lab to examine it even further.
Other labs include easy access to experimentation tools, and the physics lab has direct access to a school courtyard for outdoor testing. Several of the labs include mobile furniture so classes can transition from lecture to group work.
“This is such a great opportunity for all Marist students,” said Caleb Davis, 17, of Chicago, and the school’s vice president of the student council. “It is also such a great honor to have Cardinal Cupich here to place the new science wing.”
The project began with the generosity of two major donors: John and Laura Potocsnak and Gerald (a member of the Class of 1990) and Jennifer Beeson.
Many parents, alumni and friends of Marist have also invested in the project. As of late July, the Marist Advancement Department raised $12.5 million toward the $15 million project cost.
“We at Marist are known as dreamers,” said Brother Hank Hammer, president of Marist High School, during Monastery Hall’s Dedication Ceremony. “We were dreaming about building a science facility and you challenged us, you supported us, and you provided us with contagious enthusiasm.”
“This is for our students,” said Brother Patrick McNamara, provincial and president emeritus. “That’s what it’s all about; planning for their future.”
Construction for the project began in January of 2018 and was completed by Henry Brothers Construction of Hickory Hills, with Fox & Fox of Chicago as the architect. The project was managed by Jones Lang LaSalle. Landscaping along the exterior and the courtyard was done by Quattrocki.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in May of 2018 and in December of 2018. The planetarium dome was then placed on top of the addition. A Certificate of Occupancy was given to Marist High School this past July for Monastery Hall, and finally the dedication ceremony completed the milestones on Sunday afternoon.
Cupich took the time to address current Marist students during the dedication ceremony, as well.
“There are so many people here that want to invest in your lives, your future, and have faith in you and your education,” Cupich said. “Never take that for granted.”
Along with Cupich, Hammer, Marist Principal Larry Tucker, Class of '79, and McNamara spoke at the event.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed refreshments and self-guided tours of the educational space.