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Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for the St. Vincent de Paul School expansion Nov. 15 were Jim and Ro Necessary, Kevin and Denise Necessary, Gwen and Terry Matthew, Ken and Julie McKenzie, principal Alice Stautzenberger and pastor Msgr. David LeSieur. Courtesy St. Vincent de Paul School.

St. Vincent de Paul School breaks ground on expansion

Rogers school looking at safety with new project

Published: December 13, 2023      
Courtesy St. Vincent de Paul School
St. Vincent de Paul kindergarten student Olivia Mooney watches Nov. 15 as they begin digging up the parking lot to begin laying the foundation for the new junior high building in Rogers.

St. Vincent de Paul School in Rogers broke ground on a building expansion Nov. 15. 

Catching up to the growth that has already happened in the school is what prompted the project, said principal Alice Stautzenberger. The project is not intended to significantly increase school enrollment, she said, but to improve the ability of the school to care for existing students and parishioners. 

“We want to provide our leaders, teachers, parishioners and children the space and environment they need to thrive,” Stautzenberger said. “The goal is to improve the experience for every person who steps foot on the school campus, enriching their faith formation and creating a safe, secure space for the parish community to gather.”

Twenty years ago, the school expanded with seven classrooms and a science lab. Then in 2019, the school board began discussing the challenges of the current facilities. A committee of parents, teachers, staff and parishioners was formed to look at what was needed. 

“The committee quickly found out that our immediate need was not to grow but to catch up from the growth,” Stautzenberger said.

Once the needs were identified, a committee along with a consulting firm for fundraising, the Steier Group, was contracted. The goal for the capital campaign was set at $9.4 million. 

Close to $8 million was raised among school families, alumni and Catholic families outside of St. Vincent de Paul. 

“The current facilities were designed for approximately 300 students,” the principal said. “We now have 440 students. Also, school safety issues have changed tremendously over the years. The focus for us was on the essentials. Those things are school safety, additional classrooms, additional staff space, adult bathrooms and storage.” 

Parent and school board member Rick Parker said, “It took a lot of people to make this happen, and it really speaks to the community we have. The parish really stepped up. Many families gave money. That $8 million did not come from just one person.” 

“We saw sacrificial giving on the part of many of our families,” said Lisa Smith, who served on the capital campaign along with her husband, Steve, and three other couples. “We saw families, parishioners with grandchildren and a lot of alumni contributing. Parishioners in other parishes were willing to give because they have children attending the school. Our appeal’s success speaks to the strength of the Catholic community in this area.”  

The three-phase project will begin with construction of a junior high wing with four classrooms and a faith formation space. The second phase is to build a prekindergarten wing with classrooms and a more secure front entrance facing the church leading to a large gathering space and four new classrooms. 

“This addition will increase safety for our youngest students and provide the space to add a full-time PreK-3 program,” Stautzenberger said.

For the last phase, the building’s interior will be renovated with an enhanced administrative area, a conference room, teachers’ lounge, a revamped conference room and a larger nurses room. Another goal is to relocate the school’s main entrance back to West Cypress Street for better security. The new entrance will create a hospitable welcome center, conference room, workroom and intervention classroom. This addition will also allow the current administrative space to be converted into an additional flex classroom.

“Our school has seen a 50-percent increase in enrollment over the last two decades. Although it is not our intention to increase capacity, our school building does need updating and our phrase was to ‘catch up, not build up,’” pastor Msgr. David LeSieur. “What that means is we need to keep pace with area public schools in their state-of-the-art institutions and provide better safety standards for our own students. Additionally, the four new classrooms will double as tornado-proof shelters that will protect the entire school.”

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