Benedictine High School is preparing for the construction of a new atrium as part of a larger $4.5 million centennial campaign to update the campus. In addition to the atrium, BHS plans on increasing green spaces, remodeling science labs, and a new roof for the St. Andrew Abbey.
Westleigh Harper, principal and co-founder of Horton Harper Architects, sought to get final approval for the project on March 5. The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the case in a 6-0 vote.
The atrium will act as a new entrance to the campus. Ryan Ryzner, the president, principal and 1995 graduate of Benedictine High School, believes the project will help create a space that embodies the school’s hallmarks.
“Something that was really lacking when we talk about one of our hallmarks is hospitality, and we needed a more formal entrance,” Ryzner said. “We wanted to have an area that would be more welcoming [and] an opportunity for us to have a place for additional gathering space.”
The atrium itself will replace the current walkway, the Brother Ted Spirit Bridge, and connect both academic and athletic facilities. Ryzner said they planned on preserving the original bridge, however, could not maintain its structural integrity.
BHS is currently sending out bids to contractors and plans to start construction in June with an estimated 12 to 16-month completion time. The $1.5 million project is only one of the many renovations BHS is planning on honoring its legacy. Additional improvements include a remodeled cafeteria, a courtyard named after longtime administrator and coach Joe Rufus, and a new science wing.
Although the high school was not established until 1927, making the school 94 years old, the monastic chapter of St. Procopius Abbey in Illinois voted to send monks to Cleveland to begin a new monastery in 1922. In the fall of 1929, both the monastery and high school were moved to Buckeye Road where they have stayed ever since.
“As a way to celebrate our 100 years of existence in the Buckeye neighborhood we launched a centennial campaign that was aimed to beautify the campus overall,” Ryzner said.
A significant amount of donations for the renovations were collected from the school’s alumni. Additionally, BHS recently received a $2 million gift from the Howley Foundation which will be used in part to renovate the science wing.
“The Benedictine Community is grateful to have a very dedicated and philanthropic alumni base that have aided significantly in the funding for each of these respective projects,” Ryzner said in an email. “In addition, we have developed many new relationships with local like-minded foundations who have provided leadership level investments allowing for these improvements’ construction to already begin.”
Alex Gray is a journalism student at Kent State University. This story was produced in partnership with The NewsLab @ KSU.