The STEM center will add 57,000 square feet of academic space to the private high school. The amenities are abundant and forward-thinking — the expansion will add eight new science laboratories, four dedicated lab prep rooms, an engineering lab, a 5,300-square-foot robotics competition space, a robotics building room, a greenhouse, a lecture hall, several multi-use spaces and even an observatory.
“If you want to reach for the moon, you’ve got to shoot for the stars,” Fr. Patrick Fulton said. “We want our students to have the full experience of science curriculum, and that includes astronomy.”
With all of the additions, the school is looking to prepare its more than 900 students for “vigorous growth” in science and engineering career fields. School officials cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics which predicts STEM jobs will increase by 10.5% before the decade is out. The average STEM job pays more than twice as much as non-STEM jobs as of 2020: $89,780 compared to $40,020 annually.
Still, Catholic Central also retains a liberal arts focus and the STEM addition will allow for former science classrooms in the original building to be utilized in the arts area.
“We want to provide a rich experience and expand career opportunities and we’re not pigeon-holing to science,” Fulton said. “Catholic education doesn’t produce people as products, but gives them a broad experience that helps them discover things about themselves. In the future, we want to preserve dramatic offerings.”
Fulton does not expect to dramatically increase the school’s enrollment, which currently stands at about 930 male students, but said some teaching staff will be added with the expansion. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2024.
The STEM center addition has been planned for about three years and is funded entirely by donations, many from alumni, with no tuition dollars used.
“The incredible generosity of our alumni and benefactors makes our vision to provide a world-class education possible for our students,” Catholic Central president Ed Turek, a 1985 graduate of the school, said. “It is important to us that we offer the best possible facilities and experience for our students, but it is even more important that we work to remain accessible for students from all backgrounds. We can only do that if we are funding projects with private donations.”
Detroit Catholic Central, founded in 1928, moved to Novi from Redford in 2005. The addition is the third major project in the campus master plan. The most recent was renovation of the school’s Learning Commons, which opened in August. The first was an improved school entrance on Wixom Road, completed in the fall of 2020.
Fulton is thrilled to see the STEM center addition come to fruition ahead of the school’s 100th anniversary in 2028.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day, but we’re more than excited to provide greater opportunities for teachers to teach and students to learn, participate and be engaged,” he said.