Upgrades to Helias Catholic H.S.’s ‘Crucifix Entrance,’ fieldhouse are designed to enhance hospitality

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Several high-profile upgrades are being made this summer to the Helias Catholic High School building in Jefferson City.

They are designed to make the building — and by extension — the community, more welcoming and hospitable to students and visitors.

The original main entrance, often referred to as the “Crucifix Entrance,” is being expanded to make it more functional and inviting.

Although a new main entrance was created as part of a major addition to the 1956-vintage structure in 2016, many students still use the original entrance every day.

“We’re moving that entrance out about 15 to 20 feet,” said Helias Catholic High School President John Knight. “That will make it a far more welcoming place. You won’t just open the door and walk straight into a stairwell.

“It will give us space to speak to our history and say to our students and visitors, ‘We’re glad you’re here,’” said Mr. Knight.

The project includes a canopy leading up to the revamped entrance.

“This will significantly add to the curb appeal,” he said.

The original, two-story-tall crucifix will be moved closer to the font of the revamped entrance and will be lit 24/7.

“You’ll be able to see it throughout the night,” said Mr. Knight. “This will highlight the person of Jesus and the challenge of the cross for all of us.”

A new sign over the entrance will say “Helias Catholic High School.”

The 1956 cornerstone, entrusting the school to the intercession and patronage of Pope St. Pius X, who was canonized shortly before the school was established, will remain visible.

Renovations are also being made to the school’s James Rackers Fieldhouse, which was completed in 1992.

“We want to make it a more hospitable place, too,” said Mr. Knight. “We’re putting new flooring in the lobby, and we’ll eventually put in a new digital display for visitors and members of the community to access information about the school.”

The locker rooms and restrooms in the fieldhouse are also being renovated, along with upgrades to the air-conditioning system and ceiling.

“This really fits in with the emphasis we’re seeing on hospitality with the renovation of our Cathedral, and how we are being called to be a more welcoming community,” said Mr. Knight.

School officials were in discussions with several generous donors about the renovations until the COVID-19 pandemic put the plans on hold.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to reengage with them and move forward,” said Mr. Knight.

Completion of the project, which is being carried out by Sircal Contracting Inc., is scheduled for late autumn.

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