Saint Peter’s Prep, the private high school in downtown Jersey City that since 1872 has provided young men with a thorough, Jesuit-based education, is embarking on a 12-to-15 year expansion project to make it as relevant to today’s students as it has been to those who entered through its doors in past years.
In September, the 900-student school held a dedication for its new multipurpose center, O’Keefe Commons, a new cafeteria and event space located on the corner of Van Vorst and Grand streets at the site of the former Saint Peter’s Church. The center is named after Rev. Maurice L. O’Keefe, a member of the Prep class of 1949, whose significant bequest went toward the building’s renovation. Some 400 supporters and friends of the school attended the dedication ceremony and reception that followed.
“I love this school. I went here, and my son went here.” – Tom Leane
The new multi-purpose center was the first part of the construction, which cost about $2 million. The second part is highlighted by the $10 million floor-to-ceiling conversion of the existing Burke Hall from an all-purpose academic building into a science education center, including the installation of seven new laboratories and additional rooms for science education. Construction is scheduled to start during the spring and summer of 2011.
The other phases of the expansion project include the construction of a large multi-purpose space in the York Street parking lot; extensive renovations of Mulry Hall and Hogan Hall; a major reconfiguration of the former Jesuit residence; construction of a new academic building (along York Street); and the conversion of the upper floors of the Humanities Building into office space for non-academic administration.
Among those excited to see the new center as well the other buildings to come is Prep alumnus Tom Leane, Class of 1965, a longtime professional planner who consulted on the construction of the center.
“I love this school. I went here, and my son went here,” Leane said. “This school has been here over 135 years, and with this project, it will be here for another 135.”
Joseph Dominguez, a Prep sophomore, also looks forward to the changes at his school.
“They built [the center] really quickly, and it came out very nice,” Dominguez said.
Robert Reiser, S.J., Saint Peter’s Prep’s president, commended alumni and other supporters of the school for their financial assistance in making these first three projects happen. The school’s Imagine Fund currently stands at $11.4 million in gifts earmarked for construction projects, plus an additional $2.5 million restricted to growing the school’s permanent endowment to fund scholarships and financial assistance.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.