Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville is planning to expand its campus with the addition of two new gymnasiums and a performing arts center that could begin taking shape later this year.
The private high school, which opened in 2004, is amid a capital campaign with a goal of raising $26 million for the expansion project that school leaders say is necessary primarily because of limited space.
Guerin Catholic has raised $19.6 million through its Unite+Build+Soar capital campaign so far, said Colleen Ward, spokeswoman for the school. Members of the public can donate toward the campaign by visiting Guerin Catholic’s website, Ward said.
If officials can meet their fundraising goal, a groundbreaking for the project could take place sometime this summer or early fall. The campaign initially started in 2015 but was temporarily put on hold until about two and a half years ago, said Lori Norris, advancement director for Guerin Catholic.
The proposed expansion project totaling 61,000 square feet would bring the addition of a wellness center featuring two gyms, along with a 500-seat performing arts center, according to school officials. Currently, Guerin Catholic has one gym, while students have practiced and performed on stage in the school cafeteria since the school opened.
The existing space in the cafeteria also presents challenges as approximately 280 people can attend student performances at one time, said Marcia Murphy, director of fine arts at the school. The stage also limits the different types of performances that can be presented, while the cafeteria is also used by sports athletes as well, she added.
“It would be great to be in a space and not have to share it,” she said.
The proposed performing arts center would give students their own designated space, increase the number of visitors who want to attend various events and would also provide a place for speakers and other events, Murphy said.
Murphy said she hopes the performing arts center will give students an opportunity to explore different aspects of theater such as lighting, costume design or sound production that they might be interested in.
“I just want kids to see it’s not about just being on stage. There are all these other opportunities in the arts that do pay well,” Murphy said.
Ryan Davis, athletic director for Guerin Catholic, also said space also remains tight for various sporting events that occur at the high school because of only having one gym. Scheduling is also an issue at times, he added.
“We try to do the best at controlling what we can control,” Davis said. “We also want to make it accessible for our feeder parishes to access Guerin Catholic and be a resource for them as well, so a lot of different facility conflicts come up because of having one gym, so this expansion really opens up a lot of different avenues for our kids.”
Davis echoed Murphy regarding space, saying it has been a concern for as long as the school has been open. However, he said the additions of the two gyms will be a “game-changer” for the school, noting that Hamilton County schools in the area remain competitive.
Many local schools provide resources for student athletes to develop, and Guerin Catholic wants to be on the same playing field, Davis said.
“We want to be in that conversation as well and we know that having an auditorium, having a gym, that’s going to be a big deal as families in Hamilton County and families in the (Catholic) Diocese look at Guerin Catholic for their kids to attend,” Davis said.
By the numbers
61,000: Number of square feet the proposed expansion would bring
2004: Year that Guerin Catholic opened to the community
774: Number of total students who currently attend Guerin Catholic High School
500: Number of seats the performing arts center would have