New Year, New Campus
Photography provided by St. Ursula Academy
Students and staff at Saint Ursula Academy are happily enjoying their new art and design center, performance theater and library/media center. The theater and the arts center were completed earlier in the year, but due to the school’s needs, renovations of the library/media center were started at the beginning of summer and finished in only eight weeks, just in time for students returning in August.
“We wanted spaces to be used as much as possible throughout the day,” says Lelia Kramer, president of the school. Moving the library from the second floor to ground level made it much more accessible, and students are encouraged to use the space before and after school for homework or leisure.
“The moving and expansion of the library gives the girls a chance to sit and read in a quiet, comfortable space,” says principal Craig Maliborski. The space, which includes a media center, is surrounded by gardens on the east side, creating plenty of green space just outside the windows, and the new entrance fulfills ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, complete with ramps and lifts.
Accessibility was also a primary motive for relocating the art and design wing, which was previously across the street from the main building. “Now, any student walking between classes can go look at the artwork, allowing the students’ talents to be celebrated,” Kramer says. The classrooms are far more spacious than before, and they have an additional room for ceramics classes.
The new theater is a favorite for many. “We didn’t need a new spot for the theater,” says Jill Cahill, vice president of marketing, “but we did need to reimagine and renovate the space that we already had in order to serve our students better.” A small amount of square footage was added to create dressing rooms, while the rest of the space was transformed into a 250-seat theater complete with an orchestra box, a control booth for lighting and sound, and a room for set construction.
According to Maliborski, “The Wizard of Oz” will be the students’ first production in the new theater, November 9-12. “Everyone is really excited that we’re able to do a big production like that in the fall. We can also put on concerts for the choir, vocal ensemble and orchestra that would have been tough to do before.” In the past, such complex events would have to be done off-campus.
“To be good stewards of our spaces and the funds that we had, we were able to repurpose the old spaces too,” Kramer says. The carriage house, which was part of the old art and design wing, now houses a dance and yoga studio for both students and staff. Of course, the new spaces are still what excite most of the students and staff. “We had several alums who came back and said, ‘This feels like a collegiate space,’ ” Kramer says. Following the gymnasium in 2002 and the student center in 2012, these latest renovations seem to tie the school together and make the campus feel truly whole.
St. Ursula Academy is located at 1339 East McMillan Street, Cincinnati, OH 45206. For more information, call 513.961.3410 or visit SaintUrsula.org.