Access granted: Davenport school installs elevator

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Three students at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School and their dad took the first ride in the school’s new elevator after its dedication Aug. 23. The Burkhart family won the chance to be the first people in the elevator with a winning bid of $75 at a fundraising event.

Anne Marie Amacher
Carter, Emmy and Sam Burkhart, students at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport, and their dad, Tony, took the first ride in the school’s new elevator. Their parents, Tony and Heather Burkhart, made the winning bid last spring to have the first elevator ride.

Tony and Heather Burkhart’s children — Emmy, fourth grade; Carter, seventh grade; and Sam, eighth grade — cut the ribbon in front of the elevator. Then the three students and their dad took the elevator ride from first to second floor, second to the lower level and then back to first floor. “Nice,” said Carter.

Father Tony Herold, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, blessed the new elevator on the first day of school. He said he hoped the elevator would go smoothly up and down from floor to floor and not be stuck in between.

The elevator was installed to benefit students with mobility issues and school visitors. Students otherwise will not have access to the elevator. Teachers must insert a key to access it. Throughout the past school year and this summer, several upgrades, additions and changes were made at the school.

Two new offices were built, a set of entry doors were installed by the main office, enhanced security has been added, first-floor bathrooms were renovated and additional electrical outlets were added.

The projects completed were part of the parish’s capital campaign. Fr. Herold said the parish raised about $2.6 million; about $1 million was spent on church renovations. The church was rededicated just before Holy Week in March. About $1.6 million was spent on the school, along with some school budget money to do a few other things, said Principal Julie Delaney. “There were a lot of things that needed to get done.”

Prior to the renovations, all school visitors had to wait for staff to activate a buzzer to enter the building. But once inside, a visitor could easily bypass the office and walk straight into the school, Delaney said. Now visitors must wait for a buzzer to activate entry to the office. There is an extra set of double doors into the classroom portion of the school, which only teachers have access to.

A water fountain, described as an eyesore, was removed and a statue of the Holy Family, which had been located in the church prior to renovations, was put in that spot. The Risen Christ that hung above the sanctuary in the church during the Easter season is now permanently mounted outside the media library.

First-floor restrooms were gutted and renovated last school year. New flooring was installed in the fourth and fifth-grade rooms. “We gained a conference room back,” Delaney said. When the new addition was built with the elevator, a new office was made for the guidance counselor and one for reading and speech. The counselor’s old office became a conference room. In the older parts of the school additional electrical outlets were installed. Work began last summer in preparation for installation of much needed power supplies in the classrooms.

Other improvements included finishing security upgrades to the building. Internet and phone systems were upgraded over the summer as well. “This was a hoppin place this summer,” Delaney said.

Aug. 23 was also a special day for Delaney. It was her birthday and 10th anniversary as St. Paul’s principal.

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