In 10th decade, Assumption builds again for future

In 10th decade, Assumption builds again for future
Aerial rendering of Assumption Catholic campus, including proposed new building with playgrounds (upper right).

Site preparation in 1918 for original school building

From humble beginnings a century ago, when the original school accommodated 110 students, to its present campus with 620 pre-kindergarten to 8th grade boys and girls, Assumption Catholic School is one of the oldest, continually operated parochial schools in Jacksonville.

Since those early years, the parish has undergone seven construction projects, each time responding to a parish or community need, including that of quality education.

Now, larger-than-desired class sizes and a waiting list for every grade level has spurred parish leaders to launch a campaign for a new building, which will increase capacity by nearly 90 students and provide child care for about 30 children from six weeks old to two years old.

“As our school has grown in recent years we have worked diligently to maintain small class sizes, which is one of the main reasons the new building will benefit our school,” said Maryann Jimenez, assistant principal. “As students move to middle school accustomed to 20-25 in a class, they are then put into two homerooms of 30-plus. It is our great wish to add a third class to middle school so that they can continue to experience the smaller class size that we know is most effective.”

Jimenez, who will become principal effective July 1, is working with Mary Maszy, Rob Heekin, Patrick Thornton and others to raise funds for the $4.3 million project to build a 30,000-square foot two-story building in time for the 2016-2017 school year.

Class of 1929

Class of 1929

“An Art Studio, Media Cafe, and developed Music Department are just some of our plans for the future,” said Jimenez in a letter to Assumption School parents and parishioners. The proposed building will have 24 rooms, including three classrooms each for kindergarten through 5th grade, meeting spaces, a youth center, and additional kitchen.

“The new building is both an opportunity to serve the community and an income revenue stream for the school,” Maszy noted, since it will also include an early childhood learning center and provide care and education for infants through pre-kindergarten.

The project was seeded two years ago with a $400,000 gift for an early childhood learning center, then followed by more gifts totaling $487,000, according to Maszy.

To date more than $1.5 million has been pledged, including matching funds from an anonymous donor who gave $2 for every dollar raised. To break ground, roughly half of the cost is required “in the bank.”

“Under Diocesan rules, we must collect roughly $200,000 more in order to finalize the design and permitting, and we’ll need to collect about $400,000 after that in order to begin construction,” said Heekin, Assumption Parish Finance Committee chairman and a 1964 graduate of Assumption School.

1954 classroom

1954 classroom

A variety of fundraising activities, including at Jog-a-Thon on Apr. 17, and an outdoor gala, Footprints on the Field, will be held this spring. In addition, naming opportunities are available for the building, each classroom, playgrounds, doors, windows, etc., and mosaic tiles can be purchased in memory or honor of loved ones.

“Generations of families attended Assumption, and still live in the area, many on the same streets where they grew up,” said Maszy. “We are building the future for Assumption’s family.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

2014 classroom

2014 classroom

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