Corpus Christi ready to say goodbye to ‘cafegymatorium’

Private school's 170 students have outgrown church's multiuse Holy Family Hall

Austin Gauner and his classmates have to share gym class with lunch hour at Corpus Christi Catholic School. The school has raised .3 million in pledges to go toward a new gymnasium, kitchen and cafeteria so that gym class and lunchtime will no longer have to compete.

The construction trucks behind Corpus Christi Catholic Church in west Lawrence are a welcome sight for parishioners and 170 schoolchildren.

They are a sign that much-needed space is on the way.

“It’s just going to be a great relief. Sharing one space with the parish for the gym, lunch time and other events – it is a major Jekyll-and-Hyde situation,” said Becky Wright, Corpus Christi Catholic School principal.

Parishioners have raised $4.3 million in pledges in a capital campaign – $3.6 million will pay for the new gymnasium, kitchen and cafeteria west of the main building of the church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway. B.A. Green Construction Co. began work in November, and it plans to finish in 10 months on a normal winter schedule.

Currently, the school uses the church’s Holy Family Hall for physical education, lunch, special events and parish activities.

It is a large-sized room that can be divided into three sections, and the school’s PE teacher Ken Strahan refers to it as a “cafegymatorium.”

On a recent school day, a book fair took up one-third of the space.

“I feel like we’ve done everything we can do with the space we have,” Strahan said.

Strahan comes up with creative ways to use the space, Wright said, and he also takes classes outside in nicer weather.

He has used the library to teach yoga on days when others are using the hall.

But adding a full-size gymnasium will make everything easier, including having the Corpus Christi Catholic Youth Organization teams practice and play games there. Currently, the teams use gyms at Langston Hughes School and Bishop Seabury Academy.

Wright also hopes the space will allow the church and school to serve more people and offer more programs. School leaders plan to offer a full-day kindergarten and a preschool by the fall.

Corpus Christi isn’t the only private school planning for growth. Bishop Seabury, 4120 Clinton Parkway, is building a new arts facility which is expected to be done by spring break.

St. John Catholic School, 1208 Ky., recently added a preschool and a Spanish-language program.

And at Veritas Christian School, 256 N. Mich., a committee is exploring options for a new school building.