DEVILS LAKE, ND – The sights and sounds of construction does not solely surround St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Mary Academy.

Excitement does, too.

The excitement will reach a crescendo following the completion of the St. Mary Chapel and Learning Resource Center. The new building plans to be open in the summer of 2023.

The parish school will use the new 250-seat chapel for religious education and other community needs, including weddings and funerals. The new center, meanwhile, will include a library, technology resources and small group study rooms for the school and parish.

Michelle Clouse – the principal at St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Mary Academy – believes both additions will serve the area well.

“It’s a great addition [to] our school, I think,” Clouse said. “We need a chapel, and that’ll be a great thing for our students to have for their spiritual growth, but also their learning center, and it’ll house our smart lab, so it’s really going to help our kids, especially since the COVID-19 loss … This will help them with some hands-on activities.”

Following a wet winter and spring, construction of the project started in June. With an expected completion date in line for the start of the next school year, progress has been steady and productive from the jump.

As of September, progress on the project included the installation of structural steel, flat roof decking and exterior and interior framing.

“I think we’ve been very fortunate,” Construction Engineers Business Development Manager Mike Dunn said. “We had a good summer, and work has been progressing along as scheduled. Had a good fall here, so that allows guys to get a lot of work done. A lot of nice, long, dry days. We haven’t experienced much material delays or sub-contractor delays yet, which is a challenge across our industry right now. Been able to get ahead of those kinds of things, and it seems like even with this really tight [and] kind of congested site, things seem to be moving along really well with workers, neighbors, with traffic. Centrally important for student and staff safety and the neighborhood safety and all those kinds of things.”

To Clouse, the project could not be going any smoother. From crisp communication from the construction staff to the excitement from the kids, Clouse believes the additions will help bring the school and community together.

“I’m just very grateful to the support that we’ve had from our community and alumni of our school to make this happen for our students and our parish and the community,” Clouse said.

Remodel work will include interior upgrades, including new windows. Total square footage for construction and upgrades will top out at 9,130.