Friday, March 15, 2019
Tom Tracy - Florida Catholic
Photography: TOM TRACY | FC
PARKLAND | Alexandra Fernandez, principal of Mary Help of Christians School in northwestern Broward County, notes that the newly dedicated parish and student center now serves as a state-of-the-art cafeteria and much more.
“We used it Feb. 14 for the prayer vigil” marking the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting tragedy nearby, Fernandez told the Florida Catholic, adding that the 15,000-feet structure allows some 600 people to dine in cafeteria mode, but can accommodate 745 as an auditorium with a stage area for special events. The new $3.2 million facility allows students to eat lunch indoors comfortably, and provides additional space for administrative offices and classrooms.
A new school food service provided by Sage Dining Services also moves Mary Help of Christians into an inclusive model in which students can access the cafeteria daily as part of their tuition structure, without a la carte meal fees.
On March 4, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski blessed the new facility during a community event replete with a performance from the school choir and homemade goodies from the new state-of-the-art kitchen.
Msgr. Terence Hogan, pastor of Mary Help of Christians, was on hand along with several community and civic leaders who have been active in the project for the last few years.
The complex includes high-efficiency lighting and air conditioning equipment, along with energy efficient and high-tech roofing, windows and flooring materials, according to David Prada, senior director of building and properties for the Archdiocese of Miami.
The new building was designed to create multifunctional spaces that double as music classroom and band area, and a new grassy area called the plaza has been created to serve as a gathering place situated between the new and old buildings.
“We made use of every square inch,” Prada said. “And we were able to preserve the look of the old school so it fits in and doesn’t look like a new building.”