St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach is nearing completion of a 15-month-long renovation of the main church building that has seen everyday life at the parish challenged in some way. From a reduction in meeting space due to Masses being conducted in the church hall, to the modified routing of traffic through the campus, there isn’t an aspect of parish life that hasn’t been affected.
Adapting to changes in parish life is one thing, but the challenges are exponential when you share the grounds with a 470-student Transitional Kindergarten (TK)-8th grade elementary school. St. Bonaventure Catholic School’s administration had to develop inventive solutions to both expected and unforeseen challenges, while becoming proficient in logistics and operations, in order to continue school life with as little disruption as possible.
In partnership with the administration, teachers and staff have taken on additional duties and parents and students have volunteered their time and talents while embracing these changes. For example, a complete overhaul of the arrival and dismissal procedures required a community-wide relearning of drop-off and pick-up, with a further modification on rainy days, in addition to increased manpower.
Despite the sacrifices, St. Bonaventure Catholic School’s strong leadership in academics, faith and community has helped to preserve stability for the students. SBS even pushed ahead several new initiatives centering on improving upon the school’s pre-construction offerings at a time when other institutions might have maintained the status quo until the disruption of daily construction had passed.
Academically speaking, St. Bonaventure Catholic School restructured the 5th-8th grade student schedules to increase instructional minutes, while giving students a longer lunch period. An enrichment wheel with electives was added to junior high, as well as Honors Prep English, and Honors Math (both Algebra I and Geometry) offerings now meet high school requirements for college prerequisite classes. These additions didn’t just stop with the junior high classes, as dedicated STEM instruction is now included in the 3rd-8th grade curriculum, while STEM Exploratoriums have been added to TK-2nd grades.
Another tenet of St. Bonaventure Catholic School’s improvement plan included robust after-school enrichment programs, including the play “Annie,” the Community Service outreach club, robotics, chess, Legos, strings, and other fun, yet educational, elective opportunities for students.
Despite losing the hall for school functions and the associated reduced Mass capacity, St. Bonaventure Catholic School has been able to maintain a weekly Mass schedule and all-school liturgies during church construction. This took a little creative planning, as evidenced by the three rotations to get all of the students to Mass on Holy Days of Obligation.
These commitments to students have allowed St. Bonaventure Catholic School to thrive during a hectic time. In fact, Catholic high schools reported that the SBS Class of 2015 received over $4 million in college academic scholarships.
With an end to construction finally in sight, SBS students and families are ready to return to their new normal, but not without acknowledging the sacrifices and selfless service from the parish community, parents, school, teachers, and administration. For 2020, the entire school community is looking forward to the WASC reaccreditation process.
If you would like to learn more about St. Bonaventure Catholic School in person, please visit St. Bonaventure’s Community Open House and Mass in the newly renovated church on January 26, 2020 at 9:00 am. Open House will begin after Mass and run until 1:00 pm. For more information, please visit stbonaventureschool.org.