Pending final approval, Fontbonne University's purchase of the former John F. Kennedy Catholic High School property represents a win-win for the college and the archdiocese, which owned the campus in Manchester.
For the archdiocese, the former Catholic high school retains its rich heritage of Catholic education, rather than being bulldozed for redevelopment as housing or retail, or being purchased for a public school or secular university.
"Catholic education remains my No. 1 priority, as it did for bishops who came before me," Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said Nov. 20 at a press conference announcing the agreement. "For 200 years, Catholic schools in the archdiocese have passed along the faith to a new generation of Catholics. I'm delighted Fontbonne will continue Catholic education" at the former Kennedy campus.
For Fontbonne, the property more than doubles its physical size, adding 23 spacious acres to its 16-acre landlocked campus in Clayton; Fontbonne now has the space to achieve its goal of significantly growing enrollment, as spelled out in its strategic plan.
Fontbonne president Michael Pressimone cited athletics as a key to that growth, with the Celtics former athletic fields playing the central role in not only giving Griffins a home-field advantage but enhancing recruiting. To date, outdoor games have been played nearby but at a revolving door of fields.
"Griffin athletics have a proud, rich history," Pressimone said. "Our student athletes have achieved success on and off the field over the years despite having no fields to call our own. This new west campus will become the home for Griffin athletics and provide an opportunity for our student-athletes to shine on fields they can truly call their own."
With 41 classrooms and 108,000 square feet, the west campus also allows growth on the academic front. According to Pressimone, Fontbonne plans to add or expand six graduate programs, as well as several undergraduate programs. Adult education programs also will be at the former Kennedy property.
With the new campus, Fontbonne will "serve its dear neighbors without distinction" in West County, as the founding Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet stated, in addition to doing so with the main campus.
Though the sides have agreed upon the sale, final approval for what Pressimone called "a major and complicated transaction" remains pending from the Fontbonne board of trustees and the Vatican.
Once the sale is finalized, Fontbonne will update the facilities and bring the fields up to NCAA standards, with the expected completion of that project in fall 2019.
In the meantime, Pressimone made a simple request of Archbishop Carlson: "Please keep us in your prayers."
"Absolutely; guaranteed," Archbishop Carlson said.
>> Fontbonne athletics
Women: Basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, volleyball
Men: Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball
Co-Ed: Dance team
Source: www.fontbonnegriffins.com/landing/index RELATED ARTICLE(S):Mary statue gets new home as archdiocesan schools repurpose former JFK items