Urban Community School to build new school at former Laub Bakery site

(Plain Press, July 2004) Urban Community School (UCS) shared its new building plans with the public at a groundbreaking ceremony on June 15 th at the site of the former Laub Bakery at W. 48 th and Lorain Avenue . The new Pre-K to 8th grade Catholic school will be built in time for the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year. The new building will replace existing campuses for Urban Community School at St. Wendelin’s and St. Malachi’s parishes.

Urban Community School is an independent school that provides individualized education to children on Cleveland ’s Near West Side. “Demographic and economic studies demonstrate an opportunity for UCS to expand”, said Urban Community School Development Director Michelle Arquillo. “When it opened in 1968, UCS was centrally located to the families it served. Over time these families have moved south and west. Urban Community School must remain accessible to remain effective. To provide more opportunities to children and help more families break the cycle of poverty, the school needs more space”, she said.

The building will allow the school to expand from serving 400 students currently to serving 600 students. Priorities for the new building are fine arts, science labs, technology instruction and before and after school programs, says Development Director Arquillo.

Catherine and John Gallagher donated the land for the new school building. The Laub Bakery has already been demolished to make way for the new school. The concrete from the building was pulverized to be used as fill on the site, said Arquillo. “The new facility incorporates several aspects of current green building principles, including energy efficient light fixtures and mechanical systems, daylighting techniques and insulated walls. Recycled materials will be used whenever possible,” she said.

While Urban Community School would like to purchase the other remaining building on the block at W. 48 th & Lorain , noted Arquillo, the school was not able to reach an agreement with the owner, a local doctor. The building will remain for now and Urban Community School will be built around the building, she said.

Keynote speaker Ronald B. Richard, President of the Cleveland Foundation said, “an extraordinary number of exciting and thrilling things are happening in Cleveland – and this is one of them. This is a very important day for this neighborhood, the beginning of the regeneration of this entire neighborhood.”

Richard described UCS graduates he has had the opportunity to know as “not just extra bright people, but people who really have a moral compass.” Richard noted that half the student population of Urban Community School is made up of non-Catholics, saying, “What a gift to the community. I want to commend Urban Community School for that.” While calling the building of a new facility important work, Richard said, “The real fruits of your labor are the students and graduates of Urban Community School and the good work they do for society and our community here.”

Urban Community School Director Sr. Maureen Doyle, OSU, praised the school founders, Ursuline Sisters Mary Dolands and Michael Francis, for their vision in creating the school. She called the faculty and staff commitment and dedication to children of the school “exceptional.” Sr. Doyle said that 32 of this June’s 38 UCS graduates have been accepted at area Catholic high schools, of which 17 received scholarships.

Doyle thanked Catherine and John Gallagher for donating the land for the school. She also thanked eleven foundations for contributing $3million, as well as a number of corporations, which also made large contributions. She also thanked the trustees of Urban Community School and all individuals who donated gifts or pledges to the capital campaign.

Sandra M. Stark, President of the UCS Board of Trustees, said that Urban Community School initiated the first capital campaign in its 36-year history in order to build the new school. Sr. Doyle said $12.1 million of the $16 million goal has been reached thus far.

Urban Community School was first established in 1968 due to concern about declining enrollment at St. Patrick’s on Bridge and St. Malachi School on W. 25 th. In 1976 the St. Patrick School was demolished, and St. Wendelin’s parish school merged with Urban Community School .

With UCS emphasis on a diverse student body, tuition at the school is based on family income. The lowest tuition a family is asked to pay annually is $140. The annual cost to educate a child at UCS is $4,800. 73% of the students at the school are eligible for Federal School Lunch Program. 30% of the UCS families live on less than $11,000 annually. 410 students from 284 families currently attend the school. The ethnic make-up of the student body is 43% Caucasian, 33% Hispanic, 23% African American and 1% Asian.


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