Ethan Tipping
The Blue & White
Grand Rapids Catholic Central HS
1st Place
Division 4, News Writing
News Story

No more rain-soaked students sitting in classrooms. No more tracked-in snow making floors slippery. In fact, no more walking outside when moving between the main and north buildings and no embarrassing wipeouts when walking on slick sidewalks.
Students now travel through the new two-story Student Center to get between the buildings, and the newly paved walkways outside are heated to stay free of ice and snow.
The improvements are part of Phase II of the Greatest Gift Campaign, which was completed Oct. 11. Phase II also included a new main entrance on the east side of the school.
“It looks awesome,” senior Grace Pinter said.
The new main entrance provides access to administrative offices to the left and the first floor of the Student Center to the right.
In addition to the first floor kitchen and serving area, both levels of the Student Center feature brand new furniture where students can lounge, eat lunch or do schoolwork. Tables no longer include attached benches.
“Having a chair to yourself is much nicer than having to squeeze in on a bench,” senior Abigail Tepper said.
Not only is it spacious but it also “looks very sleek and modern,” senior Gina Vicini said.
The second floor, called “the Commons,” also includes new plasma screens for practicing presentations and tables where students can collaborate or work independently.
“It’ll provide a great study space and calming ambiance for the school community,” senior Jack Hoffman said.
Students also said they loved the unique look and atmosphere of the Commons.
“It looks like a teen club you’d see on a cruise,” senior Adrien Yondo said.
The Commons connects to the second floor of the North Building. One can also enter or exit the second level through what is now a COREX Room.
The COREX Room is intended to be a fun and artistic area providing seniors with a “blank canvas” to depict their retreat theme, according to Principal Greg Deja.
“It will hold importance to the seniors because it is what our last year will be centered around, and it is what we will focus on for the rest of the year,” Pinter said.
According to the school website, improvements to the school facilities are intended to enhance students’ educational opportunities and experience.
“Learning in a dynamic educational environment with a student body that is full of spirit and has a passion for their faith is what this school is all about,” Mr. Deja said.
The campaign raised 7.8 million dollars before going public in March. Since then, funds have grown to 8.6 million, with a goal of 10 million, which Mr. Deja believes is possible.
“If every alum gave 100 dollars we would be done,” Mr. Deja said.
That 10 million dollars will cover the entire project without increasing tuition. In fact, it could provide future students with scholarship opportunities
The first phase of the project was completed in August, pushing back the planned start of school just one day. This included a new kitchen and servery, the relocation and updating of all administrative offices and the Student Support Services area, a new conference room, and the redesign and upgrading of room 306 and the Band Room.
Phase III includes a STEAM Center (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), with completion planned for January. At that point, the science, art, and choir teachers will relocate to the North Building, and religion teachers, currently in temporary classrooms in the main building, will move to the fifth floor of the main building.
Phase III will also include a design lab–home to new tools and machines for student use such as laser cutters and 3D printers.
Phase IV, which should be completed in May, involves renovations of the fifth floor classrooms (converting them from science rooms to traditional classrooms), as well as upgrades to the fourth floor.
In addition, the courtyard will be re-landscaped and the statue of Mary (Madonna della Strada) will take center stage in the spring.
Mr. Deja said the project will make CC “a destination school.”
“We want to provide such incredible value–spiritually, academically, athletically, artistically, culturally–so that prospective families desire to be a part of our wonderful community,” Mr. Deja said.