Cathedral High School in the South End revealed its brand new Applied Learning Center at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 4. Construction for the 15,000 square-foot center began in April 2017, and it will include programs in STEAM-based learning: science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
Head of Cathedral High School, Oscar Santos, said that the school was founded in 1926 with the purpose to “serve as a mission to make sure that inner city kids have a great place to have an education.”
With the completion of the Applied Learning Center, Santos said that along with the school building and the gymnasium, there are more opportunities for students to be successful. The center will allow students to have hands-on experiences with things like robotics, 3-D printers, and theater. “We know that as the world changes, students need opportunities to have applied learning experiences,” Santos said. “And that’s making sure that the content and the skills that they learn in the classroom are also applied and embedded into the work that we do here every day so that students are better prepared to go out into the workforce, and more importantly, into the world.”
Paul Chisholm, chair of the Board of Trustees, told the students at the ribbon cutting: “This is your building…make sure you take advantage of it, make sure you challenge your teachers, because this is the type of education you need to be successful in the future.”
Senior Armani Lamin spoke about his third summer at the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, where he lived on campus and studied macroeconomics and expository writing. “It gave me a sneak peek of what college would be like and so I enjoyed that,” Lamin said. He spoke about how great it was to be in the same room with people who came from all over the world for the same purpose: to get an education. “And with this building that you guys have funded and put all your time into we can advance our education, so for that I thank all of you,” he said. He said he’s most excited to use the 3-D printers and getting to know the new Applied Learning Center, where he will have some classes this year.
The building was blessed by the Very Rev. James Flavin, who prayed that the center would become one where “students and teachers imbued with the words of truth will search for the wisdom that guides the Christian life and strive wholeheartedly by Christ as their teacher…”
Current Cathedral students provided those in attendance with a tour of the new facility, showing them the different dedicated spaces that they are excited to use.
Santos said that the school will start three new programs: maker space, which involves engineering, as well as creating robots, where the students will learn basic programming and then prototype and print. In addition, there will be a new art program with a new art teacher to increase the level of arts instruction at the school, and finally, programs for theater and music.
He said they surveyed the kids and asked what their interests and passions were, and these were the top results. Being able to provide the students with real-world experiences and input through having workshops with real firms and companies are some of the “things that help kids feel like they’re part of the solution and really creating,” Santos said.
“What I’m most excited about is really giving kids real-world opportunities to make sure that the things that they’re learning in class, they can connect it to their real lives,” Santos said.
Santos said that most importantly, he wants to thanks everyone who helped make this a reality, and that buildings go up and down every day in the City of Boston, but “this is really about opportunity for kids and it’s the Cathedral story.”
The students are excited for the new center too. Senior Lisalina Pena said, “I’m glad they’re making all these changes right now and they’re trying really hard to make us happy and listen to our voices and I like that.” She said she’s excited to take some law and justice classes, and is thinking about applying to Tufts University and Wellesley College to study law, or even heading down to Washington, D.C.
Lamin said he really wants to apply to some liberal arts colleges like Harvard, Boston University, and Boston College to study economics or something in the medical field.
Sept. 5 is the first day of school for Cathedral students, and though some of the equipment for the Applied Learning Center has not arrived yet, students will slowly ease into the opportunities it has to offer. Santos said that the new center ultimately “lets the community know that we’re around and we’ll be here for the long haul.”