OTTAWA — Local officials believe the new elementary building and gym will only strengthen an already excellent faith-based education at SS. Peter & Paul.
Officials conducted a groundbreaking ceremony Friday evening for a new Kindergarten through Grade 8 school building. The addition will replace the present structure built in 1921, the year Ohioan Warren Harding took office as President.
Fundraising began in 2018 and to date nearly $4 million in pledges was raised from 644 individual donors and businesses. In addition, the school still held more than $800,000 from the 2007-‘08 renovation and flood restoration monies from the 2007 flood, the second worst in Ottawa history. The project has an active drive to finish the campaign with a little more than $400,000 needed.
The new 11,700-square-foot academic area and 13,300-square-foot gymnasium has an estimated cost of just over $5 million.
Connie Niese, in her second year as principal, welcomed the crowd on an early Friday evening with almost perfect temperatures. Father Matt Jozefiak, who was in his last day as pastor of SS. Peter & Paul parish, noted he arrived at the parish 12 years ago to the day. The parish was still dealing with the 2007 flood and was beginning to plan. The Fourth Street building will be turning 100 years old next year and maintenance costs kept increasing. After the flood, Jozefiak said four classrooms were lost.
Denny Recker, general chair of the campaign, gave a history of the project and called the event a monumental milestone that is the culmination of 12 years of work. The eight new classrooms and a new gym will last for generations.
“A few years ago, I thought it was only a remote possibility to break ground on both facilities,” he said.
But he was told “if God wants you to have a gym, you’ll have a gym.” He thanked Jozefiak for his 12 years of leadership and said, “all the success flows from you.”
After the major flood of 2007, officials determined the three top projects were new classrooms, a new gym and a parish center. After the bids were opened in May, they came in at $1.9 million below estimate. Recker noted seeing those figures was as joyful as “Christmas morning.” They believed if they waited even six months for the new gym, costs would go up significantly.
“We felt we had to jump on it,” Recker said.
The addition, of course, will be built above the flood plain. The plan will also include razing the old school building.
Father Scott Kramer begins his duties of pastor Saturday for the parish which began in 1868 by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He was leaving his current assignment of the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue after seven years.
“God wants us to look forward with excitement and joy,” he said. “This school I hope will be a factory of saints.”
Matthew Daniels, senior director of Catholic education for the Diocese of Toledo, offered the prayers and support of the Most Rev. Daniel Thomas, bishop of the Diocese of Toledo.
Connie Niese said students will be welcomed back to classes Aug. 25.