Students and staff of Nativity Academy at St. Boniface were welcomed back to campus with a fresh look to start the new year.
An updated entrance, improved parking area and a meditation garden add function and beauty to the school on East Liberty Street, said Carol Nord, executive director of the school.
The project — named the Father Tim Hogan Plaza in honor of the late co-founder of the school — was a joint effort between Nativity and its neighbor, St. Boniface Church, Nord said.
“Father Hogan had a profound impact on both St. Boniface and Nativity. We thought this was a fitting way to honor his work,” Nord said in an interview last week.
Father Hogan, who died in 2017, served as pastor of St. Boniface and helped found the school in 2003.
The previous parking lot was originally designed to be the school play yard, when St. Boniface parish and school were established in the 1800s. St. Boniface is the second oldest Catholic parish in the city of Louisville and the first church built for German Catholics.
“It was built during a time where parishioners did not drive to church or school. It wasn’t functional and left visitors confused and puzzled,” Nord said.
The updated entrance to the school is more inviting and aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional, Nord said.
The meditation garden features benches, trees and other landscaping. Numerous individuals sponsored plaques and other commemorative pavers in the garden to help fund the project.
Nord said the improvements serve as a point of pride for students and staff.
“The students see the improvements as an investment in them. We are trying to improve the space so it’s a 21st-century learning space,” she said.
The school had hoped to include elements in the design to help relieve pressure on storm sewers. Plans called for bioswales — channels designed to guide and slow the flow of rainwater into storm sewers — and permeable pavers that would let the ground absorb rainfall. The projected cost of those plans swelled beyond feasibility, Nord said.
The cost of the project totaled $130,000. The majority of the funds came from individual donors. St. Boniface parish also contributed to the effort, Nord said.
Nativity Academy is an independent Catholic school that serves children from low-income families. There are currently 88 students enrolled in fifth- through eighth-grade. The school also works with 256 students in high school and college through its graduate support program.