Eastside Catholic dedicated with prayers and a roar

A proud, loud, orange-and-blue bedecked crowd packed the new stadium stands at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish on Tuesday for the official dedication and blessing of the new facility.

A proud, loud, orange-and-blue bedecked crowd packed the new stadium stands at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish on Tuesday for the official dedication and blessing of the new facility.

Just before the public afternoon ceremony, Seattle Archbishop Alex J. Brunett prayed with a smaller crowd of students, faculty members and community members in the plaza outside the new $40 million facility. Among the crowd, a mother and daughter — both dressed for the occasion in short heels — stood side by side and recited the Lord’s Prayer aloud.

“We dedicate this building to the education of youth, and to learning,” Brunett said. He and a delegation of students then walked through the first floor of the main building, blessing selected spots. The new, spacious chapel was blessed in a separate ceremony last week.

Many students were so thrilled they hardly knew what to say.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said David Carlton, senior class secretary.

Juniors Angela Lattanzio and Lindsay Fracas agreed.

“It’s a lot different. A lot bigger and so new,” said Lattanzio, junior class secretary.

Fracas said she’s looking forward to the new technology and simply the new feeling of the campus, which opened with an estimated 600 high school students and 250 middle school students.

“It’s the same spirit, but a new campus,” she said.

After walking through a floating arch of orange, blue and white balloons, the Eastside Catholic students, parents and community members settled in the stands of the “athletic pavillion’s” new football stadium. On the field, the high school band played songs including “We Will Rock You.” The “new school” smell was pervasive, and pleasant.

Senior cheerleaders Tess Suhrbier and Hailey Williams said that they’re thrilled for the school to have a football field of its own.

“It’s also definitely exciting to have an indoor campus with heat and everything,” Suhrbier said.

Williams agreed, adding, “I think this school will bring the (Eastside Catholic) community together.”

Theology teacher Tom Kittridge and history teacher Emmet Hogan opened the ceremony with an engaging and funny repartee.

They introduced the crowd to a few new vocabulary words to go along with the brand new school.

“The Commons,” they joked, is “Sammamish” for “cafeteria,” and they recalled how the cafeteria at the old EC campus doubled as the wrestling practice arena — and the fact that sweaty wrestling mats don’t make for the best lunch ambience. They continued by emphasizing the fact that there are no portables at the new ECHS, but there are a few “classroom cottages,” which look suspiciously similar.

A group of students representing each class from sixth to 12th grade led a prayer. And, in the final opening piece of the dedication ceremony, sisters Olivia Obernesser — class of 2008 — and Madeline Obernesser — class of 2010 — sang the National Anthem.

Bishop Joseph Tyson spoke, relaying comments for Archbishop Brunett, who had another engagement.

“This school is a labor of love,” Tyson said. “This really is the city on the hill about which Jesus preaches.”

He spoke about making good choices and learning to love Jesus Christ.

“This world needs you,” Tyson told the students. “This world needs men and women like you who desire to do good.”

President of the ASB, Michael Scafidi, mentioned with excitement the facility’s multiple art studios, computer labs, wireless Internet, chapel, large classrooms, science labs and athletic complex.

Then he challenged the student body to let “all the Sammamish Plateau hear us!”

“Eastside Catholic pump it up,” he and other students shouted.

They were answered with a gathering roar, and a rhythmic routine of stomping and clapping from students, which was heard at least as far away as neighboring Eastlake High School. “Go Eastside!” they shouted.

Campaign officials told the crowd that $39 million of the needed $40 million has been raised already, then issued a new challenge for $2 million to pay for a baseball field and multipurpose field.

Eastside Catholic President Jim Kubacki effusively thanked the fundraising campaign members — particularly co-chairs Lilli Scalzo-Pietromonaco and John Pietromonaco and Donna and John Luger — as well as the architects, contractors, financial supporters and others who have helped along the way.

Kubacki then told the story of a small group of parents who sat around a kitchen table three decades ago and talked of the need for a Catholic high school on the Eastside. The dream of those founders came true initially when the school opened in September, 1980 in an old junior high building in Bellevue.

But it was fully realized this week, when the school community opened a brand new campus of its own.

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to stand before you today and say, ‘Welcome home,'” Kubacki said.