Marquette High plots $13M expansion, renovation

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Milwaukee’s Marquette University High School is on the verge of a near $13 million expansion and renovation project, pending final approval of phase one of the project at a March 25 board meeting.

The project, whose first phase could begin as soon as April, will equip the all-male Jesuit, Catholic high school with the infrastructure it needs to see through its three-pronged strategic plan, according to school president Rev. Warren Sazama.

Along with the development of an “optimal college preparatory curriculum for the 21st century,” that plan aims to help every Marquette High student “success and flourish” and keep a Marquette High education “financially accessible to students of all different backgrounds,” Sazama said.

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Under phase one of the construction project, the school’s southwest addition will be topped off with two stories and the Henke Entrance will be expanded. The new stories will allow for space for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) wing outfitted with tools such as computer-aided design software for pre-engineering students.

The new levels will also feature an academic success center that will serve students needing extra academic support and resources, according to Sazama.

Additionally, phase one of construction will include the creation of a campus ministry center where the school can hold masses and where students can plan service trips and retreats among other pastoral activities.

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Phase two of the construction project, slated to cost another $4 million to $5 million, will incorporate significant renovations to the ground floor with the development of a robotics room, study space where students can easily collaborate, and departmental offices. Phase two will also encompass renovations to the school library.

School officials envision the entire expansion and renovation project will be completed in a year and a half. By staggering construction into multiple phases, the school will be able to keep classes in session throughout the construction process, Sazama said.

Funding for the project is being covered by a large-scale fundraising push. Of $27 million collected through a campaign the school led to back its strategic plan, more than $10.6 million has been earmarked for phase one. Another $16.5 million of campaign dollars will be directed toward student scholarships.

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Marquette High will continue to fundraise for the construction project, appealing primarily to alumni and parents for financial support.

Once complete, the project will cap a series of school renovation efforts totaling about $30 million, according to Sazama. After Marquette High completed its southwest addition in 2008 – a separate $13 million project – the school devoted $1.5 million to redoing its cafeteria, turfed its field for about $1.2 million, and updated its theater and dressing room in a $250,000 project.

Further into the future, the school plans to renovate its gymnasium, now about 60 years old.

“We’re never going to end,” Sazama said of campus renovations.

With the school’s latest campus expansion plans, Sazama emphasized that Marquette High will not grow its student population beyond its current base of just over 1,000 students.

The new space is meant to enhance the high school’s educational and support programming for students as they work to master its college preparatory curriculum, he said.

Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt, Inc. is serving as general contractor on the latest expansion project while Sheboygan-based Bray Architects is taking the lead on the architecture.

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