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The Our Lady Queen of Heaven chorus and band played at the Opening School Liturgy. The service was the kickoff for the Cornerstone Capital Campaign. (Special to the American Press)

The Our Lady Queen of Heaven chorus and band played at the Opening School Liturgy. The service was the kickoff for the Cornerstone Capital Campaign. (Special to the American Press)

Student Council President Sam Bruchhaus and Treasurer Quinn Roan attend the Opening School Liturgy. The service was the kickoff for the Cornerstone Capital Campaign. (Special to the American Press)

Student Council President Sam Bruchhaus and Treasurer Quinn Roan attend the Opening School Liturgy. The service was the kickoff for the Cornerstone Capital Campaign. (Special to the American Press)

Our Lady Queen of Heaven kicks off fundraiser for campus improvements

Last Modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:01 AM

By Ashley Withers / American Press

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic School kicked off its new Cornerstone Capital Campaign last week in hopes of raising more than $3 million for campus improvements.

The campaign will fund the construction of a 26,500-square-foot middle school building, renovations to more than 20 classrooms and the creation of an early childhood center.

“The school has several substantial needs. We needed to create an area for middle school kids only, to be able to put the sixth, seventh and eighth grade together. The school was built back in the early ’60s, and there is a very strong need to be able to remodel 20-plus classrooms,” said Frank Wood, co-chairman of the executive committee.

“Also, one of the issues that we’ve always faced is that the campus is divided into two parts. What this does also is it enables us to move all of the young kids that were across the street over into the main campus. I think that’s huge to be able to get everybody on the same side of the street.”

The building on the east side of Creole Street that is now used for classrooms for the younger grades will be converted into a self-contained early childhood center.

“We feel like it’s going to really enhance the neighborhood here and the environment of south Lake Charles,” said Monsignor James Gaddy, pastor of the school’s namesake church.

Gaddy has pledged one year of his salary to the campaign.

Construction will cost about $3.5 million.

“We’re very blessed that the parish and the school have been planning for a few years. Between the two we have a million dollars to jump-start our campaign. We’re hoping to raise $2.5 million more,” said Gretchen Jester, a member of the campaign’s executive committee.

“This construction project will affect two-thirds of our school. It is the biggest project we’ve ever done.”

The campaign has raised $600,000 since it kicked off a little over a week ago, bringing the total to $1.6 million. OLQH will host a series of fundraisers throughout the year as a part of the campaign. Monetary pledges can be spread over five years.

“Our school has provided outstanding Catholic education to our community for 55 years, with generations of alumni using that education as a cornerstone in their lives. That’s a great legacy,” Gaddy said.

“Now we’re looking to the future, to continue that legacy. It’s time to prepare the school for the next generations of students.”

All of the construction will be completed by the start of the 2014-2015 school year. OLQH plans to break ground on the project in April.

Online: http://olqhs-cornerstone.jimdo.com.

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