Faith wasn't left out of any part of the new Bishop Gorman High School.
The new facility, which opens to students Sept. 5, was designed to combine the most modern architecture with the most traditional facets of Catholicism.
"We have to remember why we are here," said Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Pepe, who added that the students' academic journey is tied to their journey of faith.
"We wanted to make sure there was a Catholic identity," Pepe said while visiting the school last week.
Besides praying every day and attending Mass every month, a tradition at the old school, students now will be reminded of the teachings of Christ during their walk from class to class. Large crosses adorn the school's new floors. Each symbolizes the stations of the cross, depicting Jesus' walk to his crucifixion.
"It will make our faith stick out in students' minds, and they will realize it and appreciate it even more," said incoming high school senior Erica Bobak, who finds the religious depictions reassuring.
"I don't think you can get through some of the things high school throws at you without believing in God," Bobak said.
In the main courtyard, a rose garden and plum trees will welcome students to the Our Lady of Lourdes Alumni Chapel. An awning over the pathway to the small church is held up by 12 pillars. Each one represents an apostle. The statue of the Virgin Mary that stood at the old Maryland Parkway campus will be moved to this yard. Inside the chapel will be a stained-glass cross. The window can be seen from both the courtyard and the roadway.
Varying shades of blue and orange, the school's colors, are everywhere as you walk through the four sets of double doors at the main corridor of the only Catholic high school in the Las Vegas Valley. The color scheme was designed to complement the mountainous background of the Summerlin Mesa, said Rachel Wilkinson, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Las Vegas.
Natural stone from China covers the new building's outer walls, giving the school's exterior an archaic, "monastic look," Pepe said.
The school's 24-foot ceilings are lined with windows letting natural light shine through.
"It lends itself to an educational environment that is placid and peaceful," said Pepe of the school's new campus, at 5959 S. Hualapai Way. Appreciating the environment is crucial when learning about faith and Jesus Christ, he said.
School photography teacher and 1976 Bishop Gorman graduate Greg Cava can't wait to send his students on assignment to photograph the school's new grounds, which include some 40,000 square feet of courtyard.
"It's beautiful," he said. "It's like we have a whole new pallet to work from."
The new school features science labs with student workstations; a marine biology lab with a saltwater aquarium; connected music and band rooms with soundproof walls and practice space; two art studios with stained concrete floors for easy cleanup.
The school also includes a pottery kiln and storage space for student projects; a media arts area for the school's newspaper and yearbook staff that includes Macintosh computers and a darkroom that will let students explore digital and traditional photography; two theaters; and 1,200-seat gymnasium that has two basketball courts.
Bishop Gorman Head of School Paul Sullivan hopes the facility will help the school build relationships with the surrounding community, sharing its state-of-the-art facilities.
Fertitta Field, the new stadium with 70,000 square feet of turf, is scheduled to be finished for homecoming Nov. 2.
The field can seat 3,000 people. When portable bleachers are brought in, that number jumps to 4,000 to 5,000 people.
The school also features baseball, softball and soccer fields, track and field facilities and 10 tennis courts.
At the old school, the only field was a practice field, and most athletic events took place at neighboring parks and stadiums.
Bobak, who is company manager for the school's theater department, can't wait to be in a building with its own stage. Having to rehearse at the old high school and perform at the local library in years past made it difficult to put on a good show, she said. The sound and light crews would have to learn the entire play in one day.
Jay Bonar, from the class of 1982, who teaches American history and government at the school, said his emotions about the new location are torn.
"I'll miss the school that I graduated from, but as a teacher connected to Bishop Gorman, I wanted to see new, upgraded facilities," he said.
The entire building offers wireless access to the Internet, and each classroom will have a built-in teacher workstation and a projection screen. Teachers will have portable computer carts that they can move throughout the building, Wilkinson said.
All of that will allow teachers to integrate multimedia technology into the classroom, making lessons resonate with students, Bonar said.
While the classrooms are ready to go, construction of the $93 million, 187,000-square-foot campus is still under way. Though teacher orientation starts Monday, work will continue on the school's athletic fields, performing arts center, practice gym and chapel throughout the school year.
Some of the school's alumni have mixed feelings about the new facility. For 53 years, the old, cozy campus on Maryland Parkway left students with fond memories of homecoming, powder puff football, the old "G-Tower" and pep rallies at the old gymnasium.
Former Las Vegas Sheriff Bill Young, class of 1974, has mixed feelings.
"The smallness of the Maryland Parkway school made you feel at home," he said. "Everybody knew each other. We were a close student body. There was a lot of camaraderie."
Bobak, though, is sure the school's old traditions will only improve with the new space, which has the capacity to hold some 1,200 students. After all, it's not the location that makes something special, it's the people, she said.
"What makes Bishop Gorman High School is not where we are, it's what we do," she said.