With song, prayer and holy water, Marian High School officials dedicated a new $9.2 million renovation and addition that transforms the look and feel of the school.
The school gets an unmistakable new main entrance; a secure, welcoming lobby; an airy, comfortable academic center; and an intimate chapel accented with symbolic stained-glass windows. A cafeteria upgrade allows for quicker service and a better menu.
“All of these updates have made Marian essentially brand-new,” Marian President Mary Higgins said.
Founded by the Servants of Mary in 1955, Marian is a Catholic, all-girls college preparatory school at 7400 Military Ave.
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Omaha Archbishop George Lucas attended the dedication ceremony Tuesday, blessing the construction.
Marian senior Lauren Zadalis said, “Honestly, it just makes my heart happy to come in the door. I know that those here at Marian and the generations to come will get to experience the opportunities the new building offers.”
Cecelia Fuller, also a senior, said the changes create a welcoming feel “the moment you step on campus.”
“It brings me comfort and joy to see our school in a new light,” she said.
The project was paid for through a fundraising campaign called “Confident to be Marian: A Campaign for a New Generation of Women.”
Officials said the Haddix Academic Center is the “crown jewel” of the nearly 9,500-square-foot addition and renovations.
The center is essentially a high-tech library, patterned after those found on university campuses.
Rather than being tucked off in a corner of campus, like the former library it replaced, the center is adjacent to the front entrance. It has high ceilings, comfy chairs and tall windows providing ample sunlight and a view of the grand oak tree in the courtyard.
“It’s like the coolest place in town,” said librarian and media specialist Molly Raabe. “That doesn’t happen for libraries.”
Its location, comfort and technology make it a “hub” for students, she said.
The center offers different zones for learning, research and co-working. The academic center is simultaneously a new library, a collaborative workspace, a casual meeting space and a place for quiet study. There are private study rooms and a collaboration room with an 86-inch interactive flat panel. The panel offers wireless projection of multiple devices and up to 10 interactive touch inputs simultaneously.
The new chapel — named Servants of Mary Chapel — provides a quiet, spiritual place for girls to pray and reflect.
Students lined the hallway and applauded while sisters of the order, carrying red roses, were escorted to the chapel for its dedication. There, the archbishop sprinkled the room with holy water.
The chapel is available for use by classes and small groups for Mass, rosary and Eucharistic adoration.
The lower row of windows are clear glass, giving a view of the 40-acre campus.
The upper row are stained glass, commissioned and created by Lincoln glass artist Rodney W. Scott. They represent the four-year journey of a student as she matures in her faith. Four ribbons begin to come together, and the colors begin to lighten, as a student follows the light of God.
The new cafeteria, funded through the Harper Family Foundation, includes a modernized kitchen that features an enlarged food preparation space and state-of-the-art industrial appliances. Officials said the changes allow for an expanded menu of freshly prepared entrees.
Healthful items like juices, fruit, yogurt and fresh packaged salads are among the offerings in two new grab-and-go coolers.
The new lobby is welcoming and secure. Visitors must buzz into the lobby, and once inside they must be authorized again to pass through locked doors into the rest of the school.
Six pillars line the new entrance. On them are chiseled the six core values of the school: service, compassion, empowerment, spirituality, community and Marian identity.