Burlington’s Catholic Central High School will get some new additions and updates as part of grant money in honor of the school’s 100th anniversary.

Thanks to a record-breaking auction, faithful donors and grant organizations, the school will receive funds to remodel facilities, revitalize classrooms, create state-of-the-art science labs, enhance technology and improve the theatre for the 2020-21 academic year.

According to Bonnie Scholz, principal of CCHS, the updates will help the school maintain its status as the premiere high school in southeastern Wisconsin.

“We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Lynch family for its $100,000 matching gift, the Erica P. John Fund, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Music Matters of Burlington and our anonymous donors for their most generous contributions,” she said.

Founded in 1920 by Fr. Van Treeck of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Catholic Central was the first parish-affiliated high school.

In her third year as principal of CCHS, Scholz is enjoying the Burlington community and the outpouring of public support for the school.

“This is an incredible community — here we are welcoming our 100th graduating class and people have been super generous in their recommitting to the school and wanting it to be poised for the next generation,” she said. “Our first graduating class had seven people and we still have some of those names in our school, names like the Ketterhagens and Lynches. We started small with one nun, Sr. Michael and Fr. Van Treek. If it wasn’t for Sr. Michael, the school would not have gotten started. It was in the middle of World War I, and it was difficult to find textbooks, but she arrived to teach and got this school going. All these years later, we are still alive and strong.”

Since Scholz’s arrival, the school’s enrollment has increased 54 percent in the freshman class and she is hopeful the trend will continue. When she arrived, the total enrollment was 122 students and next year there are 145 students registered so far. The maximum capacity is between 200 and 225.

“The first project to be completed will be updating our science labs,” said Scholz. “We have an outstandingly strong science and math here, which is unusual in Catholic schools. We have teachers equipped with the credentials to offer concurrent classes with Cardinal Stritch University, but our science labs are shabby. We have great equipment, but shabby tables that wiggle, and need updated physical space, tables, storage, electrical upgrades and the technology to take advantage of our fancy microscopes and other equipment.”

Located next to Aurora Memorial Hospital, top CCHS students have the unique opportunity to work in partnership with the hospital and observe some surgeries and updating the science labs will offer students a greater ability to learn and be prepared for the medical field if they so choose.

“We are blessed that Steve Wagner from Anderson Ashton Design/Build in New Berlin to do the upgrades for us on those rooms,” said Scholz. “Our teachers will offer input as well.”

The science labs are the first in a three-year strategic plan to give the school a much-needed facelift, said Scholz. Additionally, two classrooms will be renovated over the summer to be ready for the fall semester. Other plans include upgrading gym floors, HVAC and electrical upgrades.

“We teach in a 100-year-old building and the classrooms look exactly the same as they did 100 years ago,” said Scholz. “In fact, we have some photos of nuns teaching in the classroom and the rooms look identical. We will be keeping the wood floors and oak cabinets, but the rooms will get a fresh updated look, that is modernized.”

The $3,000 grant from Music Matters will allow the upgrades of lighting and replastering, and painting the entire theatre. The school is also raising funds for new theatre curtains.

“Those are also 100 years old and were present in our old gym that had boxing in it,” said Scholz. “We made it into a theatre, switched the stage to the other side and reused the curtains. The curtains are in such bad shape that we can no longer fire retard them as they will turn to ash. We are looking forward to the theatre having a complete facelift.”

The planned upgrades are creating a buzz in the school from teachers, staff, students and parents, explained Scholz. She said she frequently receives thank you notes from students who are grateful for small upgrades, such as new sinks and bubblers, and the recently upgraded Marian Activity Center.

“They are all so respectful and grateful; they have learned it from their parents and the greater community,” she said. “We have dads that came in over the summer who cleaned and painted locker rooms, some take care of the Topper Bowl football field, and others come in and do weeding, plant bushes and trim trees. These people take pride in this community school and the Catholic tradition. This is their family’s home.”