Notre Dame Academy, the 113-year-old Catholic girls school in Park Hills, recently finished a major expansion and renovation that created a new collaborative learning space as well as renovated space for reflection and worship.

A $7 million capital campaign provided the funding to transform much of the current school building, opened in 1964, into a more modern space, giving students better access to technology and creating improved spaces for social engagement.

“The girls are here a lot outside of school,” says Jane Kleier, director of marketing and communications. “They’re here all evening for clubs and sports. We wanted to make it a home away from home.”

The campaign was called Excellence Without Boundaries – Empowering 21st Century Women, and was jumpstarted by a Notre Dame alumna who bequeathed the school money for a library.

That was used to help create the centerpiece of the campaign, the 21st Century Collaborative Learning Center. The Center is wired for tech, and includes a video editing bay, a production suite and technology that permits collaboration on projects.

“The goal behind the learning center is definitely collaboration,” Kleier says.

The cafeteria, which dated to the school’s opening in the mid-‘60s, was completely renovated into a food court and student commons. The space now allows for quiet study time, group events and even presentations for the entire student body.

“It’s a much more updated, state-of-the-art cafeteria, much more colorful, much brighter,” Kleier says.

The project included the construction of “Spanish stairs,” where students can gather, study or just hang out. The stairs, which are made for sitting, can hold up to an entire grade level of students, she says.

Along with the upgraded space for technology, collaboration and socializing, the Catholic school’s leaders also prioritized the expansion and renovation of the school’s chapel. The chapel is able to hold about 200 people, roughly an entire grade plus faculty and staff.

A reflection space was added, including a Marian shrine as a place to be inspired by and reflect on Mary, the Blessed Mother, the central figure of the school’s spiritual life.

Bishop Roger Foys, the bishop of the diocese of Covington, presided over the chapel’s dedication on March 30.

The last piece of the project was a second elevator and renovation of “half-floor” areas into classroom spaces that are compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Notre Dame Academy is sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, who founded the school in 1906. Today, it has about 575 girls in ninth through 12th grades, and is the only all-women Catholic college preparatory school in Northern Kentucky.

With the project, school officials say they’ve reimagined a 55-year-old school building into a facility that is responsive to the demands of 21st century education and the academy’s focus on its Catholic identity and the spiritual formation of its students.

“The Sisters of Notre Dame have taken very good care of the building and we continue to do that,” Kleier says.

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