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Villa Teresa turns to community to rehabilitate historic building for kindergarten

Kindergarten children listen intently as their teacher reads to them on a recent school day at Villa Teresa. Kindergarteners currently meet in the convent. The school’s principal wants to bring them back to the main school grounds in the Little Cottage after an estimated $40,000 remodeling its principal hopes the community will help fund. Photos by Stacy Martin

Villa Teresa Catholic School principal Sister Veronica Higgins is appealing to the community to donate funds for rehabilitating the school’s “Little Cottage” – considered part of the school’s’ history, she told The City Sentinel last week.

The kindergarten students are now housed in the convent and the nuns want to return them to the fold on the main school grounds. Time and severe weather have ravaged the school’s historic “Little Cottage.”  Villa Teresa serves students from pre-school through fourth grade.

“The summer of 2010 was not kind to the Little Cottage – pipes burst from age and flooding caused much damage – an infestation of mold,” she reported.

A contractor wants to help but the school, 1216 Classen Drive, needs cash donations to help finance the estimated $40,000 project. Sister Veronica hopes it might be completed during Christmas break. She is hoping prospective donors might consider giving money as a year-end 2010 tax deduction

The cottage has had too many incarnations to enumerate, but school officials it has served Villa Teresa throughout its history in myriad ways.

She doesn’t want the school to go into debt to accomplish the task.

“In my seven years as principal, I’ve never spent money we did not have,” she said. “It is a challenge. We need the little building back.”

Reconstruction needs include installing a steel beam, creating more useable, floor space, mold removal, new flooring, new cabinets, updating of plumbing facilities, installation of central air and lower shelving.

Fund-raising isn’t her only passion. During the 2010 legislative session, Sister Veronica spent countless hours at the state Legislature lobbying lawmakers on behalf of special needs children. She wants to be able to serve more children in that student population.

The school’s per pupil cost is $535 monthly, but the school charges less than that to enable more children to attend. Next year the school must raise tuition $490 monthly to ease financial pressures.

“We rely on the generosity of Friends of Villa and alumni to supplement the costs in donations and we have been blessed,” the school principal said.

The school can be reached at 232-4286 or [email protected]

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