by Anika Bastin (’23) | October 11, 2021
Walking onto campus, there is a noticeable difference from before the pandemic. In the place of the old 300 building stands a fenced off area of construction and dust. So, what happened? The answer is the beginning of a long-awaited project, “Light the Way,” which seeks to improve life on campus for students on multiple levels. The changes range from the more visible, like the building of the Innovation Center and the future plans for the Welcome Center, to more community-based features, such as the planned increases in tuition aid and club support. Overall, this project aims to promote a more welcoming aspect of our school—one that emphasizes Saint Francis as our home.
Light the Way is meant to magnify the excellence of Saint Francis, providing students with more space to grow and demonstrate prowess. Principal Katie Teekell (’00) provided clubs like Robotics and TEDxSaintFrancisHS as an example, stating that she would love to see them grow with a new space to ideate. She highlighted, “We are going to have some great new science labs, and we’re going to be able to do things in that space that we can’t even conceptualize yet.” Similarly, Mr. Jason Curtis underscored that this project would allow the school to further develop, both in education and in its presence.
The project, however, has not been without its stumbles. COVID-19, an unfortunate presence in everyone’s lives, slightly slowed the building process. Principal Teekell emphasized the hardships the pandemic created. However, she also highlighted that this project provided her a target to look forward to, stating that “we have never met without our eyes towards how we come back, and being able to plan for this campaign… was a huge boon to us on some of those harder days.” Luckily, Saint Francis quickly bounced back, with the Innovation Center set to be complete by January of 2023 and the progress for the Welcome Center starting soon after.
Mr. Curtis especially focused on the idea of Light the Way as a path to hope and rebuilding after so much time apart from both this campus and each other. In describing the necessity of growth on our campus, he emphasized, “We are beneficiaries of generations of people who have gotten the school to where it is today, and we then will allow that future generation to be beneficiaries of what we are working on right now.” Both Mr. Curtis and Mrs. Teekell stressed that this project is not simply an aesthetic change, but rather progress towards knitting Saint Francis closer together after the separation forced by the pandemic.
Light the Way focuses very heavily on the growth of the Lancer community, thus both administrators highlighted its goal of being as student-oriented as possible. Students are encouraged to voice their opinions about our growth by communicating with Mrs. Teekell and Mr. Curtis, as well as finding ways to contribute to the cause. Arhana Aatresh (’23), one of the student volunteers, emphasized the office’s focus on student leadership as well as her own enthusiasm for the project: “I feel very excited for the future of Saint Francis. The administration is really working to help us students be as innovative as possible and contributing in any way is such a privilege.”
As a final remark, Principal Teekell stated that she wanted “[Lancers] to have every opportunity, not just to be successful here, but to be inspired and to be leaders for the next generation,” which she believes the project would create space for. Light the Way is set to create amazing additions to our campus on a scale we have never seen before!