San Miguel Catholic Middle School opens $1.25 million new building
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
8/28/12 at 7:49 AM
Teachers, parents and students at San Miguel Catholic Middle School have often described the school as being like a family. Now that family has moved into a new home.
Students walked into the new facility on the first day of school Monday. The new building was constructed on the site of the former school, which was spread out in several smaller, older buildings and houses at Atlanta Avenue and Admiral Boulevard.
The old classrooms were barely big enough to house the students, technology was outdated, and students had to travel from building to building between classes.
"It didn't matter if it was raining; you had to walk through it," said Nancy Hernandez, an eighth-grader at San Miguel.
She and Luis Olmos, another eighth-grader, are excited about going to school in the new building.
"It's amazing. It's roomy. It's not crowded anymore," Luis said.
The new $1.25 million building has eight classrooms, a commons area, a tutoring room, the principal's office and separate restrooms for students and teachers.
The only times students will leave the new building during the school day will be for physical education classes at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church's Activity Center across the street.
"Having all of us in one building will be huge," said Kathleen Brulc, who teaches sixth-grade language arts and religion. "San Miguel has always focused on being a community for one another, but we were spread out over all these buildings."
Principal Cathy Moore said the old and new facilities don't even compare.
The students now "have real rooms with heating and air conditioning that works. They have windows; they have Smart Boards, a little more technology. It's so much more efficient. It's safer," she said.
Safety was a priority for the new building, said Joe O'Connor, president of San Miguel. An intercom and camera system has been installed at the main entrance.
Claudia Gardner, who teaches math to sixth- and seventh-graders, said she is looking forward to using more technology, such as the Smart Boards and Internet, in her classroom.
"We tried to incorporate some those things in the class (in the past), but it was much more difficult," Gardner said. "We can do an even better job of preparing them (the students).
"I feel like it's a mission. You love the kids, and you want them to be successful."
Construction of the new building was completed in less than a year, and teachers and staff members started moving into the building just last week, Moore said.
"Our teachers rock. I don't know how else to say it," the principal said. "They moved in and made their rooms inviting and warm."
But the campus renovation isn't done yet, O'Connor said.
Signs, a fence and gates will be installed this year, and money is still being sought to finish those projects and fund the operations of the school, which is a nonprofit organization that doesn't charge tuition to its 70 students.
"It was definitely a community project," O'Connor said. "People have stepped up," but "there remains a lot of work to do."
About San Miguel Catholic Middle School
San Miguel Middle School, 2444 E. Admiral Blvd., opened in 2004 and focuses on raising students' skill levels by the time they leave eighth grade and enter high school. The school is open to students with financial needs and to all faiths and cultures, but only 20 to 24 students are admitted per grade.
San Miguel is part of the nationally operated Nativity Miguel schools that offer private education to at-risk students from low-income families who typically struggle in elementary school.
San Miguel does not charge tuition and is funded by donations, and students have access to support services such as Catholic Charities, a medical clinic, immigration services and bilingual classes.
For more on San Miguel, including application information, or to donate to the school, go online to tulsaworld.com/sanmiguel
Original Print Headline: Coming together
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Teacher Laura Cassel translates for Armando Valero during orientation Monday in a new school building at San Miguel Catholic Middle School. The $1.25 million building sits on the site of the old school near St. Francis Xavier Church. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
With the new building, the 70 San Miguel students no longer have to walk outside to move from class to class. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Grisselle Rojo ponders a question on the first day of school at San Miguel. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Teacher Claudia Gardner hands out pencils to Evelyn Banos (from left), Danna Valdez, Kimberly Ortiz and Alondra Gutierrez. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Claudia Gardner welcomes students to her classroom in the new San Miguel Catholic Middle School building on Monday, the first day of classes. The new facility offers teachers the ability to use more technology, such as Smart Boards, in their classrooms. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World