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Top story of 2007: St. Matthew’s students enjoy new facility

(Editor’s note: Today continues The Daily Herald’s annual series of top local stories for the year.)
St. Matthew’s Elementary School went through some major changes this year.
The major renovation also included the addition of a wing connecting the school to the church.
While most of the noticeable changes took place this year the renovation process actually began in 2002 and visions for the project date back as far as 1995.
“We had a great need for increased parking and up to date facilities,” said Father Joseph Orr of the project.
The project included renovations and an addition to update the school and church parish and to expand parking and other facilities.
The new addition between the church and the school includes a gathering space, parish offices, preschool, a library and conference room and bathrooms.
The school building was completely renovated and was stripped down to the bricks. A brand new roof along with new windows, doors and heating and electrical systems were installed.
A new security system was also installed, including cameras at the entrance and magnetic locks.
Father Orr said the idea was to make the facility “more hospitable,” so a decision was made to make the entry way into the church “something attractive.” Orr said the concept was to make it “something that would make people feel at ease and welcome.”
The entrance to the school was also relocated to the parking lot side of the building.
It features an overhang where buses can drop students off. The parking lot was also extended all the way to the new rectory.
Orr said the project was made possible by a former student, Leonard Zanghi, who had been a student at the school some 80 years ago and had remembered the parish and school “that gave him a good start in life.”
With summer coming to an end, construction at St. Matthew’s was also winding down, but not in time for school.
The start of school for St. Matthew’s students was pushed back a week, to early September, this year due to delays in construction.
Throughout the past year, while construction of the new school was being completed, St. Matthew’s students met at the Tyrone Area Elementary School for class.
The St. Matthew Catholic Church and school family are very appreciative of the Tyrone Area School Board, Dr. William Miller and staff, and everyone else who helped throughout the year, for their generosity in providing the facilities for this past school year.
Besides the new school building, St. Matthew’s students also met another change this year with new school principal Nancy Fransisco taking the reins.
Fransisco comes to the school, bringing 35 years of teaching experience along with her principal’s certificate.