Campus renovation aims to bring new academic, spiritual atmosphere

ONLINE NOTE: The story originally appeared in the May 2018 Network. Photo updates have been added through the first month of summer.

Story by Julia Hingorani ’18

New and refurbished classrooms and hallways. An Academic Center. A grand new entrance and lobby. A Chapel honoring the Servants of Mary. These are just some changes to Marian to be expected in the next few years. 

This is architect Alley Poyner Macchietto’s drawing of the proposed grand entrance.

WEBEntrance at Night

     Two years ago, the Marian administration sent out a survey to staff, students, faculty and parents to understand the desires of the Marian community. This Master Plan revealed that the current remodeling plan and building additions were at the top of the results for improving the campus. The capital campaign for fundraising was “Confident to be Marian: A Campaign for a New Generation of Women.” This theme “reflects the goal of Marian preparing for the future while continuing the legacy of an all-girls, Catholic school of excellence that prepares students to become confident, independent, thinking leaders inspired by faith,” President Mary Higgins said. 

     Athletic Director Rochelle Rohlfs, the representative for the project, will be working alongside Higgins, Principal Susie Sullivan, faculty members, Board committee members and the architecture team on planning the renovation. MCL Construction is currently employed for the renovation. 

     The Academic Center and Facility Renovation was estimated to cost $7.2M. After conducting more than 100 in-person interviews with past donors and Marian constituents, it was determined that the capital campaign should be able to raise between $8 and $10 million. Since November of 2016, fundraising efforts have been able to collect $9.5M in pledges. This money will not only go toward the renovation, but also toward tuition assistance. Individual donors and foundations are the primary pledges. 

     The Academic Center is to be the “crown jewel” of the renovation and will include study rooms and a collaboration space for students to work. The Academic Center is aimed at modernizing Marian. “It will afford a whole new level of academic research and collaboration along with greater access to technology,” Higgins said. 

     Some sections of the physical building of Marian High School have remained the same since 1955, meaning that some areas are in dire need of being updated. Sixty-three years later, the building is set to be remodeled, bringing a new look and feeling to the halls of Marian. The project is set to break ground on May 18.  

At the groundbreaking, student leaders assisted with the ceremonial shovels.


     When the project kicks off in May, the current entrance students use every day will be temporary closed and students will use Entrance 9, which is the door located closest to President Higgins’ office. During this summer, the priority is to remodel all of the classrooms with new carpet, ceilings, lighting and paint.

     Other than the dramatic changes in the physical appearance of Marian, the changes will also be felt within the students. “The updated Chapel will enhance the space as a quiet, spiritual place for girls to focus on their faith and for classes to enjoy for meditation,” Rohlfs said. 

       The time and effort put into the renovation is aimed at giving students a sense of pride for their school. The changes can help make teachers and students feel valued within their educational environment. “The academic atmosphere will be brighter, colorful and pleasing to the eye,” Higgins said. 

     The renovation process will take two summers and the 2018-19 academic year. This project is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 1, 2019. However, when students return in the fall of 2018, they will be welcomed with mostly brand new or refreshed classrooms. 

Most classrooms had to be emptied by the last day of finals.  Demolition crews came in almost immediately and began pulling down the ceiling tiles and preparing for renovation. This is how the Journalism Room 304 looked on June 14 and again on June 25.


The QUAD entrance doors have looked out onto a rapidly changing front yard. Here is the view from June 14 and again on June 25.


Rains in the third week of June may have slowed down the outside progress, but inside, things are moving! Here is the front yard view from the roof on June 25.



The former front office space has temporarily been moved to the east entrance (No. 9) near President Higgins office, and this is how the front office space and former chapel looked on June 25.

WEB6_25KR old chapel9

Principal Susie Sullivan, Administrative Assistant Michelle Delisi and the business offices on the 2nd floor have relocated to Student Services for the summer, but will have new spaces for the 2018-19 school year.  This is how their former office spaces looked on June 25.

webgood office106_25KR

Spaces like the first floor physics room and the Student Board offices looked like this on June 25.  Note: All renovation spaces are off limits without hard hats and permission.


The first floor computer lab of Etherhaven is being divided into two distinct classrooms. It looked like this on June 25.


Many classrooms that didn’t need major changes are looking like this on June 25. Notice the fresh paint and ceiling and floor ready for the new covers.


Many hallways are congested with the storage of larger furniture from the classrooms, but some locker renovation is happening as well. This is a portion of senior hallway on June 25.


Renovation photos by Kaitlyn Rosenbaum ’19 and Hannah Bena ’19.

Curious how a certain space is looking? Let us know and we’ll try to gain permission to get a photo next time we can.


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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

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