It seemed, for a while, that no one at St. Paul’s wanted to talk about it. Teachers would avoid questions, and few could find answers. But after months of construction and renovations, the Student Center, which has been renamed the Briggs Assembly Center, is officially completed and was dedicated Feb. 19.
On that day, all the students and faculty flooded into the remodeled building but could hardly fill the entire space. Although no square footage has been added to the building’s footprint, religion classrooms that lined the side facing LaSalle Hall were removed to allow for a larger stage area and more space for hundreds of additional seats.
The dedication ceremony hosted many distinguished guests: David and Carolyn Briggs and their sons, Travis, Tyson, and Rhett as well as members of the extended family; Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, class of ‘71; architects Fauntleroy Latham Weldon Barre, who worked on the building; and members of the Board of Trustees of the school.
Bro. Ray Bulliard, F.S.C., Principal/President, welcomed faculty, students and guests.
The first official event in the remodeled building was the singing of the traditional hymn, “Rise Up, O Men of God.” St. Paul’s Chaplain, Fr. Matthew Clark, O.S.B., conducted the prayer service.
Students participating in the prayer service included Jack Donham, who read the first reading; and members of the Student Council Executive Committee, Bobby Bayer, Thomas Duet, Justin Elzy, and Brian Schmitt, who read the intercessions. Michael Stewart offered a creative reflection from the point-of-view of the building, and Kurt Thompson sang the “Ave Maria” in honor of Dorothy Briggs.
Fr. Clark conducted the Liturgy of the Word. Beau Briggs and Fr. Matthew blessed the building.
Briggs and Mayor Cooper addressed the audience with remarks about the benefits of a St. Paul’s education, and their personal experiences with the school.
Anyone who has attended awards banquets, senior graduations, or Masses from previous years at St. Paul’s might have noticed that the old sound system in the Student Center simply did not get the job done. Its awkward echoes and fluctuating volumes could not harmoniously project the liturgical band’s music or Bro. Ken’s piano to audiences, but with the installation of a new sound system — one of Brother Ray’s favorite additions — The Briggs Assembly Center can rival any movie theater in sound quality.
Junior Nicholas Sibley, who sings in the Liturgical Band, said, “The new sound system will definitely help show the hard work that the members of the Liturgical Band have put forth. Not only will it help us in our Masses and prayer services, it will help in all other ceremonies held in the Briggs Assembly Center such as homecoming dances and senior graduation.” Gratitude was extended to PSX Audiovisual Technologies and Mobile One Auto Sound, Inc., for their diligence and donations.
Workers planted numerous bushes, flowers and small trees, and paved new sidewalks and parking spots around the building. A beautiful new façade mirrors the style of the recently renovated LaSalle Hall. The new drainage system will now prevent the green space in front of the main entrance to flood. “This latest renovation, which has fixed structural problems, expanded assembly space, modernized the amenities and beautified the appearance, will take us far in to the future,” said Bro. Ray.
The land upon this closed-in Briggs Assembly Center stands looked a lot different in the 1950s when hundreds of pine trees covered it. Despite challenging economic circumstances, the Christian Brothers of that time scraped enough money together to build a covered, open air structure to afford a place where the students could play basketball and games. Later, as the school grew and grew, Principal Bro. Cassian Lange, under much pressure and scrutiny, gave the Student Center walls, making it a second gym. While today’s students are spoiled, the Student Center waited until the 1970s for air-conditioning, made possible to Principal Bro. David Sinitiere. Finally in 1995, the generous donations of Dr. J. Robert Flautt, valedictorian of the class of 1931, allowed for the expansion and modernization of this building and gave it its basic look of today.
But as of Feb. 19, 2013, St. Paul’s remembers David Briggs and his family, whose generosity allowed this latest renovation. Briggs has over the years constantly aided St. Paul’s School and made it a better place. With one of his grandsons currently attending St. Paul’s, sophomore Beau Briggs, Mr. Briggs indicated he is completely dedicated to the well-being of the school and will remain diligent in its support for years to come.
Finally, in a special way, the school remembered Mr. Brigg’s beloved mother, Dorothy Davlin Briggs, who made great sacrifices to afford her children a faith-based education. A plaque has been placed in the Briggs Assembly Center honoring her. Part of it reads, “Overcoming challenging life conditions, while clinging fervently to her Catholic Faith, Dorothy dedicated herself to her children and sacrificed greatly to assure their education within a Catholic school environment.”
St. Paul’s School will constantly remember this family as students pass through the building’s doors.