By PHIL NOBILE
In an attempt to modernize and expand its athletic and creative offerings, the School of the Holy Child plans to add a sports fieldhouse, design studio and reconstruction of an existing field.
The proposal was brought before the Harrison Town Council this past month and a public hearing was held during the Nov. 20 town board meeting regarding the school’s plans.
During the hearing, some of the school’s faculty and its team of attorneys brought renderings and blueprints to show their hopes for the renovations and projects.
The largest addition to the school will be a 30,000-square-foot fieldhouse that will serve as the focal point of Holy Child’s campus. According to the plan, the building will feature a competition-size basketball court with retractable bleachers, locker rooms for home and visiting teams, a weight room, four squash courts, offices for the athletic department and other modern day athletic amenities.
“We’re very excited to begin adding some first-rate facilities to support our exceptional programs,” William Hambelton, Head of the School of the Holy Child, said. “About 80 percent of our students participate in some level of athletics. For a smaller school, we’re extremely competitive. At the same time, our overall goal is to nurture the student-athlete to their own potential.”
The school plans to retrofit the existing gymnasium into a 400-seat auditorium and add required parking spots to fit code standards. Also, the school wants to change an existing 700-square-foot garage into a two-story design studio to further expand the art department.
The plan calls for the first floor to be for a wood and metal workshop, and the second floor to serve as a design space for students.
The proposals require an amendment to the existing special exception use permit that the school operates under as a private, non-profit educational facility.
The board unanimously approved the school and their team to begin building the new facilities as the proposal was met with full support from the Town Council, who described the school as “a jewel” in the Harrison community.
“It’s nice to have an institution of that magnitude in Harrison,” Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said. “We help them when we can and they reciprocate, such as when I was [recreation] superintendent, letting us use their fields.”
The school, established in 1904, is an all-girls Catholic preparatory school for grades 5 to 12. The campus sits on a 23-acre property and has a variety of buildings and features for its 292 students.
Hambleton, who joined Holy Child this past July, said he would like to increase enrollment slightly, but keep the intimacy that comes with a smaller school.
“We don’t want to be a large school, or even a school of 400 students,” Hambelton said. “We’re eager to stay a small, Catholic, all-girls community with a very intimate culture and nature.”