Bethlehem blesses new complex

Father Kirby Rust, above, asked for God’s blessing on new athletics fields at Bethlehem High School Aug. 16. Father Rust is an alumnus who played soccer and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville in May.

Bethlehem High School’s football team lost their game last Friday, but the night was a triumph for the Nelson County school nevertheless.

It was the first football game played in the FiveStar Stadium, part of the school’s new $3.7 million athletics complex.

“We had a huge crowd. We played Providence High School from Indiana — we lost the game but had a good time,” said Bethlehem’s principal Tom Hamilton. “We’ve never had anything like this and its been a tremendous project. So many people have gone out of their way to make this happen.”

Bethlehem launched a capital campaign a year ago — 200 years and Beyond — that has three phases. The athletics complex was part of the first phase.

The complex, located less than a mile from the school, features a turf all-purpose field where football and soccer games are currently being played; a track around it; and a softball diamond. The school is currently cutting a cross country track.

The complex also has a gravel parking lot and a fieldhouse with rest rooms and a concession stand.

The school is hoping to raise an additional $500,000 to add four locker rooms and HVAC systems to the fieldhouse, said Hamilton.

In a future phase, Hamilton said, the parking lot will get lights, signs and pavement. Eventually, the schools’ baseball and tennis teams will also find a home there, said Hamilton.

A bird’s-eye view of the blessing ceremony was captured by a student in the school’s new aviation program.

“We’ve got about 40 acres total and we’ve only utilized about 10. So we’ve got room to grow and we’ve got plans to grow,” he said.

In addition to athletics, the school is also marking its bicentennial with efforts to increase tuition assistance for students and raise teacher salaries, which are lower than area public schools.

So far, about $250,000 has gone to each of these funds. These funds are expected to be expanded in future phases, Hamilton said.

The bicentennial celebration, which has been happening all year, will include tailgating at 6 p.m. prior to the Sept. 13 football game against Nelson County High School.

On Sept. 14 a Family Fun Fest will be held on school grounds from noon to 4 p.m., followed by a Mass at 6 p.m. at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral. Bishop of Nashville J. Mark Spalding, a 1983 graduate, will be the celebrant. A School Reunion Bash will follow Mass at 7 p.m. The University of Kentucky v. Florida game will be aired on a 14-foot outdoor screen.

The class of 1969 will have a reunion lunch on Sept. 15 in the school library.

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