A New Priory? An Interview with Father Cuthbert


Nick Parafiniuk, Editor

Over the past summer, Priory’s administration went public with its plans for the  renovation and expansion of Priory’s High School and former Junior School facilities. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Headmaster, Father Cuthbert, to discuss these exciting new changes. He says that the timeline for this project is tentative due to the pandemic’s labor shortage, manufacturing delays, permit-obtainment, and more. 

The renovation is expected to have two phases: Phase one, the renovation of the Junior School building into the new Arts and Science building, will begin in the winter of 2021-2022. Phase two, the renovation of the current “science wing,” will occur during the 2023 school year, after the Art and Science building is complete, in order to transform the space into, functionally, what was the Junior School. Father Cuthbert hopes that the project will be ready to go in October or as soon as the permits are approved. 

“Father Cuthbert, would you please provide the community with the background and context of this project?”

The project was initially conceived five years ago with the realization that the science facilities needed to be updated because they hadn’t been since 1996. The initial plan was to add square footage to the High School building.  However, we quickly realized that a large-scale renovation would be enough. There are three significant reasons for this improvement:  First, the STEM facilities needed to be updated. Secondly, a significant portion of the renovations will be going towards the newer students at Priory. We want them to feel welcome and have the best experience possible from the start. Lastly, we envisioned this campus as a huge outdoor classroom. We want student life to be outside. The new commons will have huge glass french doors to encourage students to go outside. Outside, there will be outdoor seating and an amphitheatre. Additionally, we are looking at possibly adding an outdoor basketball court or Gaga Ball Pit between the High School and Gym. We want the commons and outdoor area to be a place of fun! 


“Will all science classes eventually be held in the Arts and Science Building?”

Yes! The new Arts and Science Building will only be used for those subjects. Each science teacher got to design their own labs with our architect. The goal was to make sure that these labs are both state of the art and practical. The old photography room and dark room will be converted into a Robotics workshop. Labs and science classrooms will be located upstairs and downstairs. Rooms 1-3 will be converted to the Art Studio and the old faculty office will be used for Medieval Arts. Additionally, students will now have their own space to work on projects and display art which has never happened before. Lastly, on the north side of the building, an outdoor sundial will be added. 


What will be located in the High School Commons? Is Priory bringing back the Bookstore?

In the Commons, a permanent wall will be added to divide the Commons and Theatre. Dr. Erwin’s office will be in between the two areas with access to both. Ping-Pong, tables with seating, and a cafe/bookstore will be added with the ability to sell drinks and pre-packaged food. The goal is for these to be student-run businesses! 


“Why now?”

The timing is driven by the quiet raising of money we have been doing. We are approximately 80% of the way to the $10.5 million budget, so we feel ready to go public with these plans. We want to improve the lives of current students and hopefully enhance that of future students. Additionally, we hope that these new projects will help bring new life to Priory and address enrollment concerns. 


“Why are you excited?” 

The renovation signifies a rebirth of Priory. If you build a new construction building, it will just be another building on campus. We are transforming the existing building into a home for Priory students. 


Father Cuthbert hopes that these new renovations will bring new life to Priory, causing as few disruptions to learning as possible. Groundbreaking or what Father Cuthbert named “Wall-Smashing Weekend” will be over Homecoming weekend,  which is Oct. 23.