SAN DIEGO — The face of St. Augustine High School has changed dramatically over the past decade.
A three-phase rebuilding project that began in 2006 has seen older classroom buildings razed, newer facilities constructed, and the remaining handful of older classrooms extensively renovated and repurposed.
With the exception of Vasey Hall, the historic heart of the school, the most prominent holdover from before the recent renovations has been Dougherty Gym, which dates back to 1951.
But, with the conclusion of the second phase of construction, the school community began the process of saying farewell to the venerable gym and welcoming its successor, St. Augustine Commons.
“Because our campus is seven and a half acres, we really had to be precise in what we wanted and make sure that we got all the function we could out of this [new] building,” Saints President Edwin Hearn said.
St. Augustine Commons is a 55,000-square-foot student activity center with four levels, including a sky deck with three rooftop basketball courts, a terrace, a foyer with a fireplace, and a below-ground gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,500.
A bronze sculpture titled “St. Augustine the Teacher,” gifted to the school by the Saints Alumni Association and Saints Associated Student Body, stands in front of the new structure. It depicts the school’s namesake, dressed in the garb of a fifth-century Roman, addressing a contemporary Saints student.
St. Augustine Commons was dedicated during a Mass celebrated April 26. Approximately 1,000 guests joined the school’s 700 students, as well as its faculty, staff and volunteers, for the liturgy.
While acknowledging the physical changes that have taken place on campus, Hearn said the school’s leadership has been determined to preserve — and even enhance — those elements that are integral to the school’s identity.
“The things that I would say make Saints a very special place are the things that never change, and those are the matters of the heart, and of the intellect, and the total education of the person,” Hearn said, noting the school’s commitment to its core values of unitas [unity], veritas [truth] and caritas [love]. “As we’ve been going through all of this visual change, we have tried to enhance how we build community.”