Pope Francis High nears opening seven years after 2011 tornado - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Pope Francis High nears opening seven years after 2011 tornado

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

We're nearing the seventh anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornado.  

It destroyed Springfield's Cathedral High School.

Fast forward to today to the new Pope Francis High School on the same site on Surrey Road.

It's the name given to the now merged Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic High Schools.

The athletic fields, as seen from the Western Mass News SkyDrone, and the new school are nearing completion.

The head of the school, Dr. Paul Harrington, gave us a tour:

"This is kind of the centerpiece of the school because from the front, you see that cross.  Limestone on the outside and limestone on the inside and that was intentional with the thought that, consistent with the Pope and his message, is to bring the nature of the outdoors,"

The chapel has been dedicated to the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

"We've actually seen incredible progress every day, so some of the things that we're seeing today, they weren't here yesterday and a lot of the point where we're at is finishing work."

"But it's surrounded by classrooms, so everything around us are classrooms.  This floor will probably be the Humanities, English, Social Studies, Archeology classes and then the third floor are the sciences and the arts, so most of the learning occurs here."

"This is state of the art.  See the catwalk, it's very elaborate, so in terms of production, we can put on great shows.  [So another aspect if kids are interested in theater, whatever aspect of it]  Even if they don't want to be on be on stage, they can stand here in the booth like you and me and they can run the lights, they can run the sound."

"[You must at this point in time, be so excited about the first day of school.  "And nervous, I'm getting nervous. I'm confident that we'll be ready and that's really what matters.  We anticipate speed bumps along the way, trying to find our way around the building, naturally and getting used to our space, but we are so excited."

Pope Francis is set to open this fall, welcoming more than 300 students.

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