SCOTTSDALE — Students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help witnessed the intersection of past, present and future on their first day back from Christmas break.
Their school’s regular Wednesday liturgy honored the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill for opening and staffing the school throughout most of its history. Fittingly, the tribute was Jan. 4, the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the order.
The sisters’ recognition was part of an ongoing 60th anniversary of the doubled-graded K-8 school and preempted the dedication of its newest building: a pavilion designed to serve students well into OLPH’s centennial year. That’s when a future generation of OLPH students will open a time capsule that today’s student body, faculty and alumni filled for the dedication.
The capsule — which looked more like a giant treasure chest — contained nearly a locker full of school memorabilia. The dedication program, Mass readings, plus school stationary, pencil, uniform, spirit wear and jersey were givens. Student council members also collected “A Moment in Time” reflection from each classroom.
Kevin Cody, student council president, and his team created the guide. They wanted it to represent hobbies and school culture in 2016. His class voted “In-n-Out” as their favorite place to eat and the OK sign as their favorite “emoji.”
The time capsule also contains basic pieces created on a 3-D printer in the S.T.E.A.M. lab. It will be buried later this spring in order to include the current yearbook.
All 400-plus students, including one who began transitional kindergarten that day, gathered in front of the pavilion for the dedication. The gathering space replaced an outdated covered ramada where students could eat during lunch — except on days when temperatures tipped 105.
Beyond serving as a lunchroom during school hours, Fr. Schlarb sees the Cub and Boy Scout units using the new gathering space plus after school clubs and any ministry seeking to hold an outdoor reception. Floor-length, arch-shaped windows match four clear roll-up doors that will allow for open-air events or air-conditioned ones depending on the season.
“The structure had been around longer than some of our alumni who now have children attending OLPH,” Fr. Greg Schlarb, pastor, explained to The Catholic Sun. “Although it had fond memories, it was an eyesore and it was time to update the students’ dining area.”
Construction began last summer following “Raise the Roof” campaign efforts, two auctions and individual gifts. Students ate in their classrooms or naturally shaded areas of campus during the fall semester. They were eager to eat lunch in the new pavilion an hour or so following the dedication. Some even staked out their spot during a quick tour of the space on their way back to class.
Fr. Schlarb encouraged them to take care of the space and to bring their families back for the school’s centennial in 2056. He was also eager to eat with the students, proud of the first free-standing building project he oversaw as a pastor.
Donna Lauro, principal, loved seeing the school community’s vision become a reality.
“This is just one more thing we did for the kids,” Lauro said. “It confirms why we’re here when we can see we’re doing improvements for the kids.”