Back in 2014, CTA was asked to visit a parochial school in south Brooklyn to walk through what would become our first Universal Pre-K project. At the time, Bishop Kearney High School was still an active all girls Catholic school, even though it was not at full capacity. To offset maintenance and operation costs the Diocese put up square footage for lease, and the SCA began investigating space in non-DOE buildings to plug in UPK sites to meet the Mayor’s initiative to provide free Pre-K to all New York City children.
We’ve since designed UPK projects in several other parochial school buildings, retrofitting 1950’s classrooms, libraries, chemistry labs to early childhood rooms to meet Department of Education room standards as best as possible.
Retrofitting is both interesting and challenging. Bishop Kearney was compelling - high school age girls inhabiting one part of a building with 4 years in another.
5 years later, we were again asked to visit Bishop Kearney High School. This time, the gymnasium and auditorium weren’t organized and ready for another school day. Flags of past championships hung half attached, hallways full of boxes of old paperwork, chemistry lab tables covered in containers needing to be disposed of at some off site place, old yearbooks and school sweatshirts being divvied up to alumni. The newly restored chapel, empty. And this time, venturing into the convent - a whole building full of empty rooms, the Sister's rooms, little SRO’s with sinks, a window and a few shelves. And although the rooms are empty, each Sister left something behind.
By Alanna Jaworski