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Construction begun at Mother Seton School 

 Iona N. Conner
Gazette Staff Reporter

Mother Seton School, a co-educational private school, started a $1.7 million expansion project this month to keep up with its growing enrollment.

By next summer, the 430-student school will have a new science lab, a multi-purpose room for art, music, band and chorus, two pre-kindergarten classrooms, centralized administrative offices, a health room and new play areas for the younger children. Since 1810, Mother Seton, the first parochial Catholic school in the country, has been carrying the legacy of its founder, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

"Historically, we started the whole parochial school system in 1810 at the 'white house' with three students," said Val Mentzer, development director.

The current school was built in 1964 to accommodate 16 classrooms for grades one to eight.

"We're very, very excited about the possibilities for our students," said Sister Mary Catherine Conway, principal of seven years. Conway explained that the "politics of permits" held up the construction for a year after their initial ceremony last September.

Conway taught first grade 11 years before becoming principal, and some of her former students are now parents there.

The school emphasizes students' spiritual life while helping them to "internalize values which will help them to make good moral choices," according to their philosophy and mission statement.

New staff, new services, new programs and increasing enrollment have crowded out existing space, spreading even into the Sisters' Residence, Mentzer explained.

The school took action.

On Oct. 1, a groundbreaking ceremony was held and to date, $1.3 million in pledges have been gathered for the project.

Bruchey Builders Inc. of Frederick is doing the construction, with completion expected this summer.

"I think it's delightful that they are expanding to meet the needs of Frederick County," said Jim Merkel, founder and former president of Friends of Catholic Education. The group raises money to be used by elementary and secondary schools for tuition assistance, capital improvements and special projects, Merkel said.