EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 7, 2012

Parents, alumni pitch in, pay for fine arts center

NORTH ANDOVER — Eighth-grader Gabi Hillner said the new fine arts center at St. Michael School “will promote learning.”

Students “will learn a lot more” in a more “professional” environment, she said.

In what used to be storage space in the basement, there are now two new classrooms, one for art, the other for music instruction. Parents, alumni and other supporters of the parochial school provided most of the $440,000 cost of what Gabi called “a fantastic addition,” according to Principal Susan Gosselin.

The new classrooms have been used since the end of September. The school formally dedicated the center last Friday, with the Rev. John Delaney, former pastor of St. Michael Church, blessing the classrooms with holy water.

Delaney, who was reassigned to Sacred Hearts Church in Bradford in April, predicted the fine arts center will be a “wonderful space for years to come.” Delaney noted that teachers and parents realized some time ago that the school should have space dedicated to the teaching of art and music.

Building an addition to the school, located across Main Street from St. Michael Church, would have been very costly, but then people began to ask, “What about the basement?” Delaney said.

“A year ago, it didn’t exist,” he said of the new center.

“God is good,” Delaney said, and the parish and school community provided the money to make it all happen. “Family support and strong faith,” he said, were the assets that made the effort succeed.

“I think it was needed,” said Connor Grant, an eighth-grader. It’s better to have art and music taught in more spacious quarters, he said.

Two grants of $2,000 each, from the Pringle Foundation and the Catherine McCarthy Trust, helped pay for the fine arts center, Gosselin said. The rest of the $440,000 needed came from parents and other benefactors who believe in Catholic education, she said.

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