CBy Sean Maleady ’17
Chaminade’s Advancing the Mission movement has swept the school with change over the last several years, revolutionizing many areas of the Chaminade experience. While the traditional, historic roots of the main building have remained, several significant renovations to its campus have brought Chaminade to the cutting edge of the technologically-savvy modern age.
Recent campus upgrades including the Bloomberg Business Center, the Saragossa Retreat House, a renovated Physical Fitness Center, and the Gold Star Stadium – paired with the installation of flat-screen televisions in every classroom, Wi-Fi improvements, and an iPad initiative – have transformed Chaminade. However, despite all the progress, one important aspect of the school was still stuck in the past, in need of a well-deserved facelift – the science labs.
In this regard, Chaminade president Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M. ’81 saw an opportunity to fill a void in the Chaminade curriculum, and was determined to do so.
“I knew we had to renovate and improve our science and technology academic programs,” said Bro. Tom.
Initially, the plan was to renovate the current labs, but one day Bro. Tom walked across the back field after visiting Gold Star Stadium, and a vision was born.
“I think we can get another building there, making it clear that we are serious about science and technology,” Bro. Tom recalled thinking.
The proposal for a new building went through Science Department chairperson Bro. Benjamin Knapp ’93, the administration, school board, and community, receiving nothing but positive feedback along the way.
The new $18 million, 32,000 square-foot building, designed by the Mancini-Duffy architecture firm, took two-and-a-half years to design, ensuring that the exterior of the building would seamlessly blend in with the rest of the campus, while the interior would be on the cutting edge of science technology. Construction has been ongoing throughout the last calendar year, as the foundation has been laid and steel support beams have been inserted. Upon completion, the building will sit on the northwest corner of the Chaminade campus on the west end of Faerber Field. Its north side will overlook Jericho Turnpike, while the south side borders Gold Star Stadium.
This science/technology building will help to inspire students’ interests in the sciences, opening new worlds of opportunities for them. The new building will house state-of-the-art technology to acclimate students to collegiate and even professional laboratory conditions. Biology teacher Mr. Pasquale Razzano, who ran a genetic therapy and tissue-engineering laboratory at North Shore University Hospital for 15 years before becoming a member of the Chaminade faculty, has aided with design plans, sharing his prior lab experiences. Mr. Razzano, a Science Olympiad moderator and the Science Research Club founder, said, “I am looking forward to students having high-tech, real world science experiences. With the new building we will have tons of space and awesome equipment to use.”
“It will give us the opportunity to do cutting-edge research and put Chaminade on the map for science,” added Mr. Razzano.
The building will be truly stunning, featuring three floors, a basement, and a rooftop deck. The south entrance of the building will house a three-floor brick and glass atrium. Inversely, the north wall of the atrium will be home to a 28-by-30 foot “green wall” composed of various preserved mosses and lichens, plants students study in earth science class. Overhead, a Foucault’s pendulum will descend to the main floor of the building from the ceiling, demonstrating the earth’s rotation.
The first floor of the building will accommodate earth science and physics labs. These labs will be 50 to 60 percent larger than the current ones. In addition, the Science Olympiad team will get its own space.
“We’ve never had our own space in the 27 years of Olympiad at Chaminade,” said Bro. Ben. “This will be the first time the team will have its own lab, which will allow us to grow as a unit and take new steps.”
The second floor of the building will contain the biology and chemistry labs, as well as a lab for the newly created Science Research Club, a group which will play a role in increasing student involvement in research projects to maximize opportunities for Chaminade’s talented scientists.
The third and top floor of the new building will be a multi-purpose room used for presenting science experiments and hosting class lectures. A balcony there will overlook Gold Star Stadium, allowing games to be viewed from a unique angle. In addition, a terrace on the roof will give students the chance to study astronomy with telescopes. The plan for the basement is to feature a “makerspace” and “fab lab” to support the creative interest of students. Cutting-edge technology such as 3D printers will be available for use in this space.
“The purpose of the building is to house our current science program, along with the additional science labs we plan on installing,” explained Bro. Tom. “This building is going to put our already strong academic program on an entirely new level. We are going to be light years ahead of any academic institution around us because of the depth of the academic work our kids will be able to do.”
Modernizations such as digital probes in all labs will allow for maximum accuracy in scientific experiments. Through the use of their iPads, students will be able to perform advanced experiments to foster scientific interest and expand understanding of complicated concepts.
“The iPad initiative will allow for collaboration and accuracy on a whole new level,” said Mr. Razzano.
The building will seek to support a S.T.E.M. curriculum: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. “We are now moving towards where the world is going,” said Mr. Razzano, “and I know that our students will be better prepared and will begin to major more heavily in the S.T.E.M. fields in college.”
With the construction of the science building, the preexisting labs will be converted into spaces for other needs. The school store will moved into an existing lab, for example, while the space occupied by the current school store will be used to expand the Guidance Department. A second space currently used as a lab will be repurposed to create a spirituality center for Emmaus and C.R.O.S.S. students. Additionally, the Bloomberg Business Center will be relocated from the library.
“We are hoping for good weather this winter, allowing for more progress to be made before having to seal it up for the weather,” said Bro. Ben. “I am excited with the progress that has been made and am looking forward to seeing the building open.”
Upon the building’s opening, scheduled for late November, 2017, students will be exposed to the state-of-the-art technology and outstanding learning opportunities.
“The goal is part of Chaminade’s ongoing academic investment plan to continually provide the best academic experience that a Catholic high school can provide,” said Bro. Tom. “Keeping up with the standard we have established over the last 86 years, this new S.T.E.M. center will continue our tradition of success.”