Campus upgrades leave Holy Family Grade School feeling like a million bucks
While still vital at 94 years old, Holy Family Grade School in Glendale celebrated a much-desired face-lift this week.
“The grade school is where aspiration begins early, where children have hope and where they thrive,” said Holy Family principal Fidela Suelto, who traveled in March to Finland to study and implement best educational practices from the high-performing Scandinavian nation.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to better serve our students,” Suelto added.
Students, teachers, staff, Archdiocese of Los Angeles dignitaries and Glendale city officials held a celebration on Tuesday of recent upgrades to the school due primarily to a grant of more than $1 million from the Shea Family Charities.
The transitional-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade institution, which has about 252 students, unveiled an artificial turf play and picnic area and a physical education zone, complete with agility ladders, pull-up bars, sit-up benches, large ropes and exercise equipment.
There was also a new play area with slides, bridges and a soft-foam floor.
“This is all nice, and I like it a lot,” said Daniel Gonzalez, an eighth-grader and Glendale resident. “The playground and turf are the big changes, but I’m going to use the workout area most.”
Perhaps some of the more impressive upgrades weren’t at eye level as the school ripped out its old stained and cracked asphalt and replaced it with a concrete surface that included colorful painted shapes throughout the campus as well as new hopscotch and four-square game settings.
In keeping with the theme of educational renewal, the hopscotch game doesn’t feature the traditional numerical count per block but rather consists of fractions, where students can bounce from one-half to one-tenth.
Another major change was the removal of the school’s chain-link fence in favor of new iron fencing, which has entry locks and encircles the entire school.
Though parish deacon Ron Baker, a Glendale resident “for all 60 of my years,” saw the changes being made daily, the 1973 alumnus of Holy Family Grade School said he was still moved.
“All we want is a safe environment for our students to learn, play and be physically fit,” said Baker, who also graduated from shuttered Bellarmine-Jefferson High School.
“For the greater Glendale community, this is a place where we can gather for events and celebrate and enjoy the environment,” he added.
The improvements completed a portion of the second phase of a master plan for Holy Family Parish — its elementary school, high school and church. The plan is known as “Building Our Future.”
Holy Family is trying to raise approximately $13 million to build a new parish center and additional parking in its first phase, along with constructing a high school facilities building, a life teen/music center and a high school quad area, which would be part of the second phase.
All elementary school aspects of the second phase are now complete for Holy Family Grade School, named the “Best Private School” and “Best Music School” in the Glendale News-Press’ Readers Choice Awards last year.
Construction for the grade school’s improvement began in mid-June, with the final pieces of work wrapping up last Friday.
“We think Holy Family is such a wonderful school and does such a great job for the kids,” said John Shea of Shea Family Charities.
“So, we like to give to schools that are successful and that will further the education for the benefit of the children,” he added.