Founded in 1868, Saint Patrick School secured a new name last July – Saint Patrick Academy – and will soon have new home at 315 Banfield Road.
″[We have] already seen a 40 percent growth in enrollment and we expect to be full by September,” said Mark Schwerdt, head of school. “We have built an incredible learning environment.”
According to Schwerdt, the new campus will “evoke wonder in the hearts of [their] students.”
“Our new campus will see us develop outdoor classrooms where nature – often called God’s first book – will be observed, protected and cultivated,” he said. “Raised beds for gardening and bridges that traverse a woodsy trail system will all be cared for by our students.”
Describing it as “the most technologically advanced and secure campus the Seacoast has ever seen,” Schwerdt said its defining feature is that it brings the outdoors inside the school.
“Natural light is let in from a magnificent glass hallway and cathedral ceilings with large skylights,” he said. “When our students do step outside, they are welcomed by two modern playgrounds, an amphitheater, berms for running and playing tag, huge boulders of natural rock for jumping and a 10-foot state-of-the-art climber.”
A new name and facility are not the only changes, as Saint Patrick Academy will exist as a private Catholic school as opposed to a parochial educational institution.
“We are bringing best management and operational practices into the school to achieve operational excellence and to enhance our educational model,” said Jim Broom, founder of the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation.
Responsible for the purchase of the land upon which Saint Patrick Academy has been built, the foundation will also provide guidance and oversight.
“The school’s board of directors is the foundation’s board,” he said. “As a fiduciary board, they are highly engaged and committed to the school’s success.”
According to Broom, the new campus and organizational structure will enhance the school’s ability to build upon an already strong track record of academic excellence.
“Graduates from the school have historically been in the top percentiles – we have always had good fundamentals there,” he added.
Aside from its focus on promoting academic rigor, Broom said the new campus will continue to emphasize core values that often surprise people.
“Often times, people are not aware of the fact that the Catholic faith is really all about hope and joy,” he said. “We are focused on building out an even more joyful culture in the new space.”
In addition to “joy,” he said they will continue to promote and encourage kindness and great citizenry.
“Each month, we focus on a new virtue – and students receive a certificate if they demonstrate it,” he said. “These are important characteristics to the education we offer here.”
Broom said the story behind the new campus is as much about what will remain unchanged as it is what will be different.
“The kids will be cared for and loved by the faculty and staff,” he said. “It will continue to be a real positive environment that will encourage solid behavior in young people for the betterment of the community.”