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June 15, 2017

Warrenton church plans expansion of preschool

The two-story addition (right) would allow the preschool to move closer to the grade school and playground on St. John’s 11-acre property.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
St. John has outreach program offices in the building, which formerly housed nuns.
They do an exceptional job with those kids now. All of this will make it easier on staff
— Warrenton architect David Norden
Preschool Addition
• What: 5,200-square-foot, brick addition to existing building to accommodate preschool.

• Where: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 271 Winchester St., Warrenton.

• Details: Four classrooms, each including a restroom, work station with sink, student cubbies and storage. Project includes remodeling existing building and construction of student pick-up and drop-off area.

• Architect: David Norden, Warrenton.

• Next: Church officials hope Town of Warrenton staff in the next few weeks will approve site plan, construction documents and permits.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Warrenton church’s preschool program expects to get a new home next year.

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church plans construct a 5,200-square-foot, brick addition to the former convent on its 11-acre property along Winchester Street. The expansion will include four classrooms, each accommodating up to 17 students.

The preschool shares a two-story building — across from the sanctuary — with the church’s administrative offices.

The church hopes to receive the required administrative approvals from the Town of Warrenton in the next few weeks, church Finance Council Chairman Roy Francis said.

“We would like (construction) bids to be out by July and break ground in September,” Mr. Francis said of the six-month project.

Calling that schedule “optimistic,” he explained that the church expects to complete the addition and remodeling of the former convent in time for the 2018 school year.

“It’s exciting looking at (classroom) models and picking out the best for the children,” preschool Director Julie Copeland said.

The addition will allow the staff to continue to provide “a quality product in a quality space,” Mrs. Copeland added.

St. John’s preschool program registers 50 to 60 students per year, she said.

While the classrooms will accommodate up to 17 children, St. John limits class size to 12 to 15 students, Mrs. Copeland said.

The addition also makes sense because it will “bring the children closer to” the St. John grade school and playground area, Mr. Francis said.

That will improve safety, because the staff no longer would need to walk students through the church parking lot to get to the play area, said Warrenton architect David Norden, who designed the project.

“This is an exponential improvement for the safety of the children,” Mr. Norden said.

Each 700-square-foot classroom — two per floor — will include:

• A restroom and water fountain.

• A work table with sink.

• Student cubbies.

• A storage closet.

“Each classroom gets complete, modern accommodations,” Mr. Norden said. “They do an exceptional job with those kids now. All of this will make it easier on staff.”

The project, which could cost about $800,000, calls for remodeling the first floor of existing 2,600-square-foot structure to include staff offices, a reception area, a teachers’ lounge and a conference room. All of building’s windows will get replaced. The preschool program will not use the building's basement, which will remain unfinished.

Other improvements will include construction of a student pick-up and drop-off area serving the preschool.

A St. John’s outreach program serving the poor, which occupies the old convent, ultimately will move to the church’s administrative office building.

The new space will allow the church to advance one of its missions in a modern and more efficient way, Pastor James Gould suggested.

“The ideal formation for any level of the church is to synthesize the academic, social and spiritual dimension,” said Rev. Gould, appointed St. John’s pastor seven years ago. “The building is a medium that helps provide that. The child, ultimately, goes home to the dinner table. It affects the parents and family members.”

St. John will borrow funds for the project, requiring perhaps four or five years to pay off that loan, Mr. Francis said.

But, Rev. Gould wants to retire the debt before he “leaves” his assignment as pastor in three years.
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