Holy Spirit Preparatory School Announced; Ground Broken For Donoghue Upper School
Published: December 18, 2003
ATLANTA—Archbishop John F. Donoghue was the honored guest at Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s groundbreaking held Dec. 9.
Holy Spirit Prep is the new name given to the school which encompasses the Donnellan School campus, Holy Spirit Preschool, and the future Donoghue Upper School campus, named in honor of the archbishop.
Msgr. Edward Dillon, pastor of Holy Spirit Church, where the upper school campus will be located, expressed his delight in the groundbreaking, which students, parents, faculty and staff attended.
“We’ve been a long time in the process,” he said. “We are about to realize our ambition with this groundbreaking.”
When Msgr. Dillon introduced the archbishop as the namesake for the campus, the archbishop said he was “delighted and pleased” with the honor.
“Keep off my grass,” he joked.
The nature of any Catholic school, the archbishop said, stems from its mission of combining culture and faith.
“This unity is found at the heart of each of the subjects taught at Holy Spirit Preparatory School and brings to its students a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history,” he said.
He expressed his joy in the new high school, which will bring the total to six in the archdiocese, each with a unique blend of academics and faith formation.
“Holy Spirit Preparatory School has as its mission the delivery of a challenging, personalized, classical college preparatory education all within the context of an authentically Catholic school,” he said. “This is a school where academics are pursued rigorously yet never at the expense of an integral formation for every student.”
“This is a school where knowledge set in the context of faith becomes wisdom,” he said. “I am very pleased to be associated with it personally, and take this occasion to thank the board of trustees for the honor of naming this campus of the school after me.”
Currently, Holy Spirit Prep serves students from 3 years old through 10th grade. All grades other than preschool are housed at the school’s Donnellan campus at 4820 Long Island Drive. The school opened in 1996 and has been affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ since 1998.
When the 2004-2005 school year begins, the new Donoghue campus adjacent to Holy Spirit Church will house grades seven through 11. The school will field its first varsity football team for the 2004-2005 school year. A 12th grade will be added in the 2005-2006 academic year and the first senior class will graduate in spring 2006.
The Holy Spirit Prep Lower School campus will remain at its current location on Long Island Drive and will be known as the Donnellan campus, in honor of Atlanta’s second archbishop, Thomas A. Donnellan. The preschool facility remains at Holy Spirit Church.
The campus naming system addresses the expansion to the new high school campus, unifies the three distinct student bodies under a common identity, and reflects a special relationship with Holy Spirit Church, although the school is governed, accredited and funded as an independent school.
The exterior of the new buildings, designed by Cooper Carry Architects of Atlanta, will be in classical European university style. The interior of the 24,000 square-foot liberal arts building will reflect the American arts and crafts style of design and use of materials. It will include 14 new classrooms, a two-story galleried university-style library with a reading atrium, a chapel, a reception lobby, a café and offices for the headmaster and president.
The interior of the 33,000 square-foot commons building will contain three state-of-the-art science laboratories for biology, chemistry and physics, a robotic observatory for astronomy, fine arts facilities including a performance stage and a dressing room, and band, chorus and art classrooms. A competition-size gymnasium for basketball and volleyball, with weight and locker rooms, as well as coaches’ offices, will also be located in the commons building. Other interior features will include an area for socializing and food service, with an adjoining kitchen. Brasfield & Gorrie is the general contractor for the new facilities.
With the addition of the two new buildings, Holy Spirit Prep’s total square footage for all three campuses will exceed 100,000 square feet and will be a $20 million project. The maximum number of students on the Donoghue campus will be 320 and the school, as a whole, will have a capacity for 1,000 students.
The close community and opportunity for one-on-one interaction with teachers is one of freshman Kristin Shaver’s favorite things about her school. This is the first year in a private school for Shaver, the school’s student body president.
Shaver, who represented the student body during the groundbreaking, said the event was “really exciting.”
“I love being a part of this school. I am just amazed (by the designs of the new buildings),” she said. “I’m so proud to be a part of the new campus, and I’m glad I was able to represent the school today.”
The school is currently led by president Gary Delneo, whose term will end June 30 as he plans to leave the Atlanta area to be closer to his family. Jamie Arthur serves as the lower school principal and Darren Pascavage, Ph.D., is the headmaster of the school, with special concentration on the upper school. Dara Liberatore is the preschool director.
Gareth Genner is the school’s president-elect. His son, Charles, is in the eighth grade at Holy Spirit Prep.
“This really is the realization of a dream,” he said, adding that the original goal of creating a school that would serve students in preschool through high school has further expanded.
“In 2005, we’re going to be offering a 14th grade,” he said.
Holy Spirit Prep will begin offering select students an early college program, where they will take their first two years of college courses.
This is a program offered in about 100 schools across the country, Genner said.
“What this means is that students will actually earn their AA (associate’s) degree and will enter a university as a junior,” he said. “They’ll still have a four-year university program, but when they graduate, they will earn a master’s degree rather than a bachelor’s degree.”
This special program will be based on teacher recommendations for students who are “under-challenged” with their high school classes, Genner said.
“We have six teachers with doctorates and 27 with advanced degrees, so we have a faculty well capable of teaching college courses,” he said.
Offering college courses to students is just one more thing that is creating excitement among Holy Spirit families and faculty.
“This is an incredibly strong community,” Genner said. “Everyone is just delighted.”