LACEY - The long-planned Pope John Paul II High School is set to open in the fall - in temporary quarters at St. Michael Parish, rather than at its eventual Lacey home.
The remodel of the old Lacey firehouse at 5608 Pacific Ave. S.E. has yet to start, and even if it begins in the next week or two, as high school principal Ron Edwards hopes, the building won’t be ready for students in September.
“It really came down to timing – getting the permits completed, the lease worked out, the financing, etc. All of those things had an impact on the starting time,” he said.
Instead, the 21 students – a combination of freshmen and sophomores – will start classes in the ministry center and St. Joseph Chapel at St. Michael Parish in Olympia. The school plans to open with five teachers.
Edwards said he hopes the Pacific Avenue campus will be ready during the school year so the high school won’t continue to occupy space at the parish.
Pope John Paul II High School officials hope the school population will increase to 240 students while they are at the Pacific Avenue campus. Pope John Paul II school has a five-year lease at the firehouse, with an option for an additional five years.
St. Michael, the church where some members of the high school board are parishioners and which has a Catholic school already for kindergarten through eighth grade, lent the use of its space to Pope John Paul II school to help it launch, Edwards said.
“They have been generous and welcoming,” he said.
The reconstructed old Lacey firehouse will include six classrooms, administration space and a cafeteria, Edwards said.
Seismic improvements to the building also will be necessary because of the change of use, said Wade Duffy, a building official for the City of Lacey.
The school will be the first Catholic high school in Thurston County in the more than 20 years since the closure of an all-girls high school run by the St. Placid Priory. The Archdiocese of Seattle gave the OK for the new school in 2009.
The high school was originally planned to open in fall 2009 on land purchased in the Hawks Prairie area, but it was unable to secure needed bank loans.
So in spring of last year the board selected the old Lacey fire station as its new location; it is within blocks of two prominent Lacey Catholic institutions – Saint Martin’s University at 5300 Pacific Ave. S.E. and Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 812 Bowker St. S.E.
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