By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
The next chapter in the story of Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep is now being written with bulldozers and cement mixers.
On Oct. 14, despite persistent rain forcing everyone indoors, donors, sponsors, and Dallas-area business leaders joined Cristo Rey Dallas president Kelby Woodard and the Cristo Rey student body in a groundbreaking celebration for a new 31,000-square-foot academic building that will be constructed on the east side of campus.
The building is slated to open by the fall of 2017.
The $10 million project is one phase of a broader master plan intended to completely remake the Cristo Rey Dallas campus to suit the school’s pressing need for space.
After welcoming its inaugural freshman class in 2015, the school admitted its second class this year, doubling the size of the student body to 246 students. It is expected to reach 370 next year, with the addition of the 2017 freshman class.
“It gives us the ability to have a class next year because we just flat out do not fit,” Woodard said. “It will provide (our students) with a world-class facility that we’re designing towards a focus of getting them into college so when they have that college experience it’s not foreign to them.”
Woodard said they are squeezing as much as they can out of the existing space with administrators sharing offices and classes being held in the gymnasium and any other available spaces. The new building will provide 14 new classrooms and five labs.
Richard Joyner, the school’s board chairman, said the new building will be another tangible piece of evidence for the surrounding community that progress is being made at Cristo Rey.
“The new building helps bring this school a sense of identity,” Joyner said. “It brings something positive for the community to rally around and it creates some positive momentum for the community.”
Joyner said the new facility builds on the school’s commitment to helping students build their academic skills as well as their self-confidence in the workplace. Sophomore Gemma Peralta is class president of the Cristo Rey’s founding class.
She thanked those in attendance and summed up Cristo Rey in one word: opportunity.
“Cristo Rey is an opportunity for all of us to achieve our dreams,” Peralta said. “We all have big plans, and, thanks to this new academic building, we are one step closer to making those plans possible.”
Bishop Greg Kelly gave a blessing during the ceremony and said the entire school is fundamentally a work of faith. He said the work-study model the school offers has made an enormous difference in the lives of students and their families, who would otherwise not be able to afford a private, Catholic education.
“Work and school I think is a good combination,” Bishop Kelly said. “It gives them a sense of self-confidence that they can see careers they never thought possible for themselves.”