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School welcomes more space

February 17, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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school welcomes space

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A multimillion-dollar renovation project kicked off Tuesday night with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Clock Building, which will hold 16 classrooms, a cafeteria and a technology center for St. Joseph School by the 1999-2000 school year.

So far, three architectural firms have submitted bids for the renovation project, which is expected to cost $1.7 million to $1.8 million, said Sister Ellen Marie Hagar, principal of the school.

The building cost $2.3 million.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston bought the building in November to expand the school, which has about 300 students.

Sister Hagar said the expansion is partly in response to the growing population, but also to keep pace with technology and specialized programs public schools offer, such as programs for special needs students.

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St. Joseph's didn't have the room to accommodate children with special needs before.

"We hope this will make our (school) more inclusive," Sister Hagar said.

Renovations are expected to begin this summer.

The seven stores currently in the Clock Building gradually will be moved to the Blue Ridge Outlet Center, said Tom Rice of Stephen Street Associates.

As space becomes available, stores will relocate. All will be out by September, Rice said.

Although they won't be able to see the changes first-hand, eighth-graders currently attending St. Joseph's say younger students will benefit from the expansion.

"The facilities will be much more contemporary," said Arthur Ebeling, 13. "I think they're anticipating more students because the area's in an economic boom."

Derek Cook, also in eighth grade, said he won't be able to experience the changes, but he will come back and visit.

St. Joseph's is hiring a firm to start a drive to raise the money needed to pay back a five-year loan from the diocese.

Sister Hagar said she hopes to find 100 people to participate in the school's Blue Ribbon Circle, an organization of businesses and individuals who pledge to donate for the next five years.

"One of the problems is, people think because we're a private school we have unlimited funding," Sister Hagar said.

So far, 14 members have joined, including Blue Ridge Outlet Associates, Corning, Inc. and Alpha Associates Inc.

Those interested in joining the Blue Ribbon Circle can call Lori Stiles, director of development, at the school, at 1-304-267-6447.

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