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Danvers

St. John’s Prep unveils expansion

Middle school, tech building coming by 2015

As part of a strategic plan it rolled out last week, St. John’s Prep in Danvers announced it will add a middle school to its campus and also build a new science, math, and technology building for its high school. Both facilities will open in September 2015.

The Catholic boys’ high school, which opened in 1907 and sits on 175 acres, also will build a wellness center within the next five years. That facility will include a field house, fitness rooms, and an indoor pool.

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School officials declined to say how much the new buildings would cost, but said the decision to add the middle school for grades 6 through 8 — which would accept up to 300 students — and the new buildings grew out of a three-year study that included parents, faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni.

“The vision expressed in the strategic plan reaffirms our mission and builds on the strength of our program,” said Bernard L. Caniff Jr., chairman of the St. John’s Prep’s board of trustees. “It is a natural extension of our mission to educate young men in an atmosphere animated by faith, brotherhood, and wisdom.”

Headmaster Edward Hardiman said the middle school would be located at Brother Benjamin Hall, a high school classroom building that was built in 1963 and renovated in 2004. The building has 25 classrooms and six science labs. Hardiman said the school would be self-contained, and would be renovated to include a dining hall, media center, and classrooms for arts and music.

‘There is some strong interest in [the middle school] option.’

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“We have a strong belief that’s substantiated by the research we’ve done that there is some strong interest in this option,” he said, referring to adding a middle school. “Parents are looking for an education that’s value-based, faith-based, and committed to educating the whole person and committed to academic excellence.”

St. John’s already has begun the search for a new associate principal who will help run the middle school. While it is unclear how many students will enroll when the middle school opens in 2015, each class will be capped at 100 pupils.

In the 1940s, St. John’s Prep offered classes for seventh- and eighth-graders but disbanded the program around World War II. It was a boarding school until 1976, when school officials decided to turn the dorms into academic buildings. According to the school, it draws students from 80 cities and towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Prep’s legacy as an athletic stronghold continues this year with state team titles in football, fencing, and swimming. The baseball team is No. 1 in the Globe Top 20 ratings.

Currently 1,150 students attend the high school in grades 9 through 12, and about 30 percent receive need-based financial aid. Next year’s tuition at the private day school will be $19,250. Hardiman said tuition at the middle school would be 15 percent less.

According to Hardiman, 99 percent of the students in last year’s graduating class were accepted to four-year colleges.

Hardiman said the new 60,000- to 65,000-square-foot building that is planned for the high school would house the science, math, and technology departments, along with labs and classrooms.

 The building will be comparable to the school’s Xavier Hall. That five-story building was built in 1911, and is topped with the school’s landmark spire. He said the new academic building would promote collaboration between students in different classes, such as math and robotics.

“The new high school building will be designed to foster the 21st-century skills students need to understand and contribute to the world around them,” principal Keith Crowley said in a prepared statement.

In addition to its planned expansion and construction projects, the school’s strategic plan, called Prep 20/20, calls for boosting need-based scholarships, continuing to attract “a talented student body,” and raising more money by bolstering its endowment.

“Increased philanthropic support will foster innovation, ensure continued academic excellence, minimize the impact of new programs on tuition, and enhance the fullness of the Prep experience for all students,” the strategic plan states.

Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at srosenberg@globe
.com
. Follow him on Twitter @WriteRosenberg.

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