CHARLOTTE – Charlotte Catholic’s student body lined the bleachers and joined a host of school supporters and successful alumni who came back to witness the kickoff of a new $23 million capital campaign to fund a fine arts center on its campus.
With a $15 million assist from the Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools, the state-of-the-art building is set to begin construction in December 2020 and be completed by June 2022.
The new fine arts center will hold many features that are needed at the school.
At the kickoff, students spoke of their disdain for the lack of space for performing arts performances, saying all of those events are currently held in the gym, which has inadequate lighting, bad acoustics and no capacity for light shows or other theatrical enhancements.
Other students spoke of seeing classes for some performing arts being taught in cramped spaces, in hallways or even outside because there simply isn’t anywhere else to practice.
“We as a faculty cannot offer the same thing our competitors are offering,” band director Timothy Cook said.
Cook just led more than 70 marching band members to a prestigious win in Limerick, Ireland, but many times his students practice in the gym, on the football field or even in the parking lot.
All of that will change will change with the new center, that will house all of the performing arts and feature a 650-seat auditorium, among other much needed amenities.
“We’re really excited,” said MACS parent Tish Macuga, who has sent five of her children through Catholic schools. “Everything will be in this new building. It’s awesome for students in the arts, but what’s also awesome is that those classrooms in this current building can be used for academics. It helps everyone.”
One of the speakers at the event, 1991 graduate Matt Olin got one of the biggest ovations, although that was probably saved for former Cougar, North Carolina and Carolina Panther running back Elijah Hood.
“This truly is going to be a visionary expansion of the school,” said Olin who spoke with his business partner and 1992 graduate Tim Minor. “They say expand your mind and expand your worldview. I say expand your school and the rest will follow. This expansion will affect the entire school and the entire community at large.”
Hood stood in front of the large crowd and helped accept donations the school has already received to the tune of nearly $3 million from local supporters.
Still, $5 million will need to be raised in the next year or so for construction to begin on schedule.
The new center will sit on the gravel lot Charlotte Catholic students used to use as overflow parking. Macuga said building the parking deck was the first stage of the expansion, so the gravel lot could be freed up.
Now that it is, the final stages of a plan Macuga said has been in the works for awhile can put Charlotte Catholic on a level playing field as many of its counterparts in the arts.
“At Charlotte, everything we do is in the gym from plays, choral performances, bands and everything has always been in here,” Macuga said.
The state-of-the-art building will be broken down into two phases. The first phase features the theater, band room, drama classroom, dance studio, side stages, dressing rooms, choral room, concessions, an ensemble room, set-construction space and a lobby.
Phase 2 will consist of art studios, a black box catwalk, ceramics studio, digital lab, 60-foot fly tower, faulty workshop space and photography lab.
“We haven’t built anything here in a long time. This is going to touch kids as long as the school is here,” Macuga said. “I’m really excited because I think every student in our school will benefit from this.”