Victory’s on the horizon

Marching on to new science, art and technology wing: capital campaign officials are planning a "thank you" event for key donors; also say construction is on schedule, though additional funding is needed.

Contractor Frank Rewold's Darin Schafer, who is overseeing the construction of Notre Dame's new science, art and technology wing, said that the innovative facility is on schedule for the 2018-19 school year.

"The building is enclosed and dry and we will be working on the interior of the building throughout the winter," said Schafer, who is a construction superintendent with Frank Rewold and Son, Inc., the company tasked to manage the project. "We just beat winter by getting a roof on and the building sealed up with heat."

He also said that in the coming weeks, they plan on pouring all of the interior floors.

"Once floors are in, we will be installing more ductwork, electrical and water lines as well as fire sprinklers and other utilities in the ceiling," he said. "We will be doing the floors in part of the building starting this week, then the floors in the rest of the building after Christmas. We should be done with the remainder of what concrete floor we can install by mid-January."

Special tour in January

Notre Dame Head of School Andy Guest said that the schedule is very favorable not only for the ultimate deadline for the wing, but also for an important event he is planning for the end of January.

"On January 31, Notre Dame will be hosting another big event, which we're calling an 'thank you party' for those who have made key pledges or donations to the campaign," Guest said. "We plan to show those who've made a significant commitment to the campaign all the progress we've made and to walk them through the facility on a private tour."

Guest also said that the goals the school set for raising the necessary funds for the new wing are being made although there is still more to do.

“So far, we have secured nearly 200 commitments to the campaign, including more than 75 members of our own faculty and staff,” he said.

“We want to continue to close the gap between where we are today — about $5.3 million in commitments as of December 18 — and the $7.5 million goal. We want to secure as much as we can if not all of it before we open the facility ahead of the 2018 school year.”

Campaign launched publicly last March

On March 9, 2017, Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy launched the public phase of its campaign to raise a total of $7.5 million science, art and technology wing.

Dubbed the “March on to Victory” campaign, the public phase of the fundraising effort was introduced at a special celebration to a crowd of more than 700 who heard from school and campaign officials and watched a special video presentation. Since then, Guest, campaign chairpersons Pat D'Agostini and Daron Gifford, and the NDPMA advancement office has been working hard to "close the gap" between the $7.5 million goal and where they are today.

More on the March on to Victory campaign is here.

Gifford said the facility expansion is about investing in the next generation of children at Notre Dame. "Investing in the sciences, arts and technology will be critical for the education of our Notre Dame students," he said. "We want to keep Notre Dame on the leading edge of education in both STEM and the arts."

The latest data from the school's advancement office show that the money committed to the campaign thus far has been enough to get the construction well underway. The data also illustrate the areas of need still unmet, with a number of large, targeted donations remaining open. 

“We are still looking for a few major donors to help get us to the $7.5 million, but we are also looking for donors who can make meaningful donations at every level,” Guest said. “We are looking for families who are willing to make Notre Dame their number-one philanthropy for the next few years and consider a pledge that can be paid off over a four-to-five-year time frame, as an example.”  

For Rewold's Schafer, he remains focused on not only getting the new facility ready for January 31 but totally ready in time for school next fall. In fact, he's in the process of installing temporary "windows" on the new building so as not to slow the work inside.

"Temporary windows are panels framed with lumber and covered with reinforced plastic," Schafer said. "They allow light in but keep the weather out. Once all the dust from the cutting of blocks and pouring the floors is done, we will install the real windows, which actually are on site now and ready to go."

Schafer also said that while the project is on schedule, it has had its share of hitches, although nothing really unexpected.

"Construction always has its challenges, but schools usually require a little more special care," Schafer said. "Installing the new water main through the summer had some challenges. Plus, we had to keep the water pressure on to maintain water to the building and keep activities at the school going even during the summer months. This is not a 'dry-cut' project, so the logistics and layout of the project are little more difficult."

One additional "difficulty" Rewold ran into was the very wet ground to build on and to work in. "The site's water table is very high, so it makes any underground work somewhat more interesting," he said.

Furnishing discussions

Currently, school officials are going over plans to furnish the new wing. According to head of school Guest, there have been recent discussions with the architect and possible vendors on room layouts and furniture. 

"We not only meet on a regular basis to go over getting the structure in place, we also meet about maximizing the space most efficiently for our students and teachers," Guest said. "We want this to be a true innovation center and we want the furnishings to reflect that fact."

"We are looking at what kind of desks and furniture (Steelcase is a preferred vendor) we will obtain and we're talking about how the desks, tables and chairs are being arranged, etc.," he added. "The old alphabetical lineup of kids in rows of desks is not something we're looking to replicate in the new facility. Plus, if these new setups prove popular and successful in the new wing, we'll look to replicate them in some of our other existing classrooms."

Guest also said that he’s been in discussions with members of the building committee on the new greenhouse and which classes can or should be held in the greenhouse.

“In addition, we’ve been talking with senior academic administrators about teachers with experience in botany or horticulture who can help us build a curriculum that takes full advantage of the greenhouse facility.”

Major donor says 'thank you' for what school did for his children

Bill Kozyra, who is the March on to Victory honorary campaign chair and a very significant contributor to the project, said he is pleased with the progress and hoping more in the Notre Dame community get on board with the campaign.

"Supporting the campaign was a way for me to 'give back' and say thank you for what the school has done for my children and how it has impacted their successful lives and careers,” said Kozyra, who thus far has committed $1,129,000 to the project.

“I fully support the March on to Victory campaign as I believe all young people deserve a high quality and Catholic education," he added. "I was blessed with a private, Catholic education and would like as many young people as possible to have the same great experience that I had.”

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at