A Marin Catholic Revamp


Jane Merkle, Writer

Exciting renovations are coming to Marin Catholic soon! A revamped science wing and a redone convent building are in the works, and this seven million dollar project is certainly a reason to be excited about returning to Marin Catholic next year. Currently, the science wing project, known as Phase 1, is set to take place this upcoming summer. The 400-wing will be gutted and the pre-existing building and equipment will be replaced with state-of-the-art facilities.. While the building itself will maintain the same footprint, the interior will be changed hugely for the better.

The science building was originally built in 1949 and was last updated in 1983, so it is much due for an update. However, the plans need to be finalized, custom appliances need to be made, and the county needs to approve the renovations which “all have to happen in a very tight window in order to pull it off this summer,” said Mr. Navone. Because school is in session the majority of the year, the renovations will have to take place between May 20th and August 20th, barely three months. If there are problems with the county or other necessary details, the project must be postponed until next summer, because, as Mr. Navone said, “we can’t shut down our science facilities for a year, or during the school year.” Those working on this complex project see it as one of the first phases in Marin Catholic’s 20-year plan, which emphasizes updating and improving academics at the school, as the past 20-year plan involved the sports complex. Now, “all plans for the school for the next 20 years should always start with the academic program, and that’s why we’re attacking science first and we’re overdue for that upgrade,” says Navone. The team working on the updates is “praying hard that every domino is going to fall in the right direction” so that the project can be completed over this summer.

Phase 2 is a plan to update the convent building, a large and more ambitious project. Currently, the convent contains a few classrooms, the Campus Ministry department, and other miscellaneous offices. The building itself is a dark maze of hallways and isolated rooms, which, to students unfamiliar with the layout, is confusing and difficult to navigate. The project will update the Performing Arts Center, improving acoustics and lighting in the building, a much-wanted improvement to the popular Drama Department. Mr. Navone said that the plan is to “do the Performing Arts Center and the 800’s in a summer, which will probably be not this summer but next summer”. The new convent building will be home to the Counseling Department, which is currently scattered in multiple places, and the Campus Ministry Department. It will also house a meeting room for various clubs, student councils, and faculty, as well as three new classrooms to accommodate the growing population at MC.  The new and improved building will be full of natural light and will be much more open plan, as Mr. Navone said, “we want the physical space for Campus Ministry to be the way we want kids to think about the faith, which is open, transparent, welcoming, happy.” Fundraising for this expansive and expensive project is still underway, and Mr. Navone said that “we have to raise a lot of money to make these dreams happen.” The minimum amount of money needed for this project is around seven million dollars, but it is expected to require a little more. The goal is to start the project next summer, in 2020, meaning the convent building will be shut down for a whole year. In contrast to Phase 1, Phase 2 construction will be active during the school year and will impact student life.

These projects have been in the works for almost two years, and fundraising for Phase 2 is just getting started. The project started with a feasibility study, in which they interviewed students to find where on campus is the greatest need for improvement. The goal of these projects, and of the new MC 20-year plan, is to make Marin Catholic a cutting edge, creative place to learn, and a big part of this movement is to institute a new program. One of the most exciting parts of this project is the upcoming Principled Entrepreneurship program, in which students will be matched with mentors to help them “create change and help solve the world’s problems.” Mr. Navone is certainly excited for this, saying that “it’s going to be a program that no other school in the country has and will be the most cutting edge, innovative way to learn that I know of.” This new program will begin in 2020, and will be available for juniors and seniors, meaning this year’s sophomores will be the first students eligible to participate. All of the Marin Catholic community should be excited for the immense changes coming soon that will “change everything for the better.”