Trinity breaks ground for new gymnasium

An artist’s rendering of the new gymnasium for Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Hutchinson. (Courtesy image)

One of the first wants Dan Dester heard when he started as principal of Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School was a second gymnasium. Four years later, he is getting ready to check that off his to-do list.

The Hutchinson Catholic school community broke ground Thursday, Jan. 4, for another gymnasium, an addition that will make life less complicated for students and their families.

Only school with one gym

“All the other schools in our league have two gyms,” he said a few days before Christmas break. “So when we go to away games, they play two games at a time. When we have them here, we have to start earlier…one right after another.”

A single gym also makes it necessary for early morning practice times for junior high students, he said, which is an imposition on parents. “This will free up a lot of gym time for that.”

Dester added that a second gymnasium will open the school to more grade school and community activities.

The groundbreaking was long awaited.

One of the objectives of the Commitment to Excellence capital campaign, which was launched a decade ago, was a second gym for Trinity – but the fundraising fell short of the goal, he said.

“That’s why this campaign is called To Fulfill the Promise, there was a promise to build a second gym,” Dester said. “The last campaign raised $500,000 towards the gym, so we already had that in the bank.”

Nancy McElgunn, who works in Trinity’s Development office, said the school currently has $1.4 million in the bank and $855,000 in pledges toward the $2.3 million goal. “We are so graciously thankful for our wonderful donors,” she said.

School community teamed up to raise the money

Dester said the Vogel and Gust families co-chaired the campaign. “They really did a lot of the behind-the-scenes work and got this going.”

The diocese allowed the school to move forward with a campaign even though a feasibility study indicated the campaign would fail. “As a team we convinced the diocese to let us push forward and do our own campaign. We didn’t hire a company. We did it on our own. We were able to make the $2.3 million mark.”

Wiens & Company of Hutchinson is the general contractor for the project. The gym is scheduled to be finished by the end of September.

First time was a charm

Dester said this is the first time he and McElgunn have been involved in a capital campaign.

“We didn’t know exactly what the process would be,” he said. “There are a lot of checks and balances in the process. We started this three years ago and now we’re just getting ready to break ground. We thought it would be a lot faster – I think our people did too – but they’re all very excited to get started.”

Dester said Superintendent of Schools Janet Eaton, diocesan Director of Development Mike Wescott, and the late Bryan Coulter, the diocesan director of Finance, were instrumental in navigating the process. He said the diocesan Building Committee, headed by the Very Rev. David Lies, was also helpful.