Senior Joe Hogan won’t be able to enjoy the newest endeavor at St. Dominic High School, but he’s excited about the possibilities for the underclassmen at the school.
The co-ed, archdiocesan Catholic high school broke ground Oct. 27 on its new Center for the Sciences, which will boost the school’s STEM curriculum. The $6 million addition is the centerpiece of St. Dominic’s “Called to Lead” capital campaign.
The center will support a growing enrollment, which Hogan said has been noticeable in his four years there. The school is currently at capacity with 840 students — its largest enrollment in its 91-year history. The Center for the Sciences will allow the school to welcome up to 1,000 students in the future.
“The traffic that I’ve seen in the hallways is so much more than it was my freshman year,” Hogan said, adding that the school has taken plenty of precautions to spread out students in the midst of the COVID-19 health pandemic. “The new classrooms that we will get will be incredible.”
The Center for the Sciences will feature nine laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science, forensics and biomedical science, a ZSpace virtual and augmented reality lab. The labs will support the school’s STEM curriculum, which focuses on computer science, engineering and biomedical sciences. The school launched Project Lead the Way in 2014 to further develop curriculum in those areas.
Hogan has taken two classes in computer science and one in cybersecurity. “The STEM curriculum here and the growth that it’s had in the past four years since I’ve been here has been incredible for me,” he said. It’s given him the opportunity to consider future career fields, as well as a current part-time job teaching young children coding skills.
The space will include a broadcast journalism studio, a campus ministry center and an entry way and student collaboration space. Construction on the complex has begun and is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022. An earlier phase of the capital campaign funded the expansion of St. Dominic’s campus to provide a private entry drive and increased visibility from Interstate 70.
The Center for the Sciences is the last major initiative in the school’s five-year strategic plan, which was launched in 2018 and addressed other areas such as student life, education and technology in the classroom.
St. Dominic president Jim Welby said families are choosing St. Dominic because of its welcoming, family-like atmosphere. Some families have three to four generations at the school, while others are choosing it for other reasons, including affordability, faith development and expanded academic offerings.
“We’re doing a more effective job of communicating that with the general public,” he said. “We really pride ourselves on keeping kids from this area and having them attend school here. We want kids to feel welcome here and stay in their own community.”
With the development of a new addition, as well as a growth in enrollment, “it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that these are coming together at the same time,” Welby said.
The addition at St. Dominic is more “about the young people entrusted to our care, in order to form both the minds and their hearts,” said Todd Sweda, archdiocesan superintendent for secondary schools, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Regardless of career pursuits, this campus enhancement will encourage to an even greater level the critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and moral responsibility necessary to navigate this challenging world in a very transformational way.”
The school has increased by 100 students in the last year. Principal Stacy Stewart, a 1989 alum, said she believes families are considering St. Dominic because “of our mission of leading everything we do through Christ. That has a huge impact on students, and families are looking to give that to their own children — to grow in academics alongside with their Catholic faith.
“Our sense of community is like no other,” she said. “That is the biggest word we hear when they choose St. Dominic.”
About St. Dominic High School
St. Dominic High School’s mission is to provide a Catholic education to young men and women in grades 9 through 12, allowing them to grow in faith and knowledge as they prepare for college and their future personal and professional lives. It is the largest co-ed archdiocesan Catholic high school in the state of Missouri.
Enrollment: 840 students
History: Founded in 1929 as Assumption (Parish) High School; In 1962, the Archdiocese of St. Louis established St. Dominic as a regional high school serving St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.
About St. Dominic: The name honors St. Dominic Guzman, patron of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, who answered Cardinal Joseph Ritter’s call to lead the school. Longtime librarian Sr. Jeanne Margaret Stoltz, OP, was the final Dominican sister to teach at St. Dominic, retiring in 2009.
Campus: 50 acres in O’Fallon
Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
After graduation: 99% of St. Dominic graduates continue to postsecondary studies