Thursday, September 07, 2000

New Fenwick High planners get go-ahead to raise money

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — A larger, relocated Bishop Fenwick High School came one step closer to reality Wednesday when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati gave permission for a $5 million capital campaign and hiring architects to do conceptual drawings.

        “This is a great opportunity for us,” said the Rev. Charles “Chuck” Mentrup, principal. “The demand for Catholic education in this region continues to grow. We can't meet the demand.”

  Anyone interested in helping raise funds for the Fenwick project should contact Father Mentrup at (513) 423-0723.
        Alumni Bill and Debbie Akers earlier offered to donate 66 acres for the new school along Ohio 122, east of Interstate 75, just a few miles from the current school on Manchester Road.

        Middletown parent Joan Schiavone, who has two children at Fenwick, was pleased by the announcement.

        “That's great. It's what we've been waiting for,” Mrs. Schiavone said Wednesday. “I like the little Fenwick but we're growing and don't have enough space. If we don't build a new school, someone else will.”

        Enrollment in this year's freshman class is 140, the largest in the school's 47 years. There are 421 students in the school, up 13.7 percent from last year's enrollment of 370 and 68.4 percent from 1987, when the school had only 250 students. To accommodate students, two double-wide modular units were constructed on school property, Father Mentrup said.

        Only 6 percent of the freshman class is non-Catholic, compared to the typical population of 12-14 percent in Catholic schools, Father Mentrup said. Many of the new students are coming from the growing communities of Springboro, Mason and West Chester Township.

        A steering committee will meet Sept. 19 to discuss hiring a professional fund-raising group and architects, Father Mentrup said. Solicitation probably won't begin until January. “We have a lot of prep work to do in advance of starting a campaign,” he said.

        Plans for the school, which would be built initially for 550-650 students, include a chapel, media center, performing arts facility, science labs, gymnasium, athletic fields plus stadiums for soccer and football.

        “The people here have been very supportive and will continue to be,” Father Mentrup said. “I don't think we'll have any trouble raising the money.”

        The project has been estimated at about $12 million but architects will more closely estimate that price tag.

        The earliest a school could open would be fall 2002, said Dan Andriacco, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. If fund-raising efforts fail to get pledges or donations of at least $5 million, the project will not move forward, Mr. Andriacco said.

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