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Pittsburgh bishop celebrates next step of high school building project

| Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, 9:38 p.m.
Bishop David Zubik signs the ceremonial beam before crews put it into place during a 'topping out' ceremony December 14, 2012 for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School building in Cranberry Township. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Steel workers and dignitaries sign the ceremonial beambefore it's put into place during a 'topping out' ceremony December 14, 2012 for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School building in Cranberry Township. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Scott Clark (right) and Jason Shipely (left) from Century Steel Erectors put the ceremonial beam into place during a 'topping out' ceremony December 14, 2012 for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School building in Cranberry Township. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Scott Clark (right) and Jason Shipely (left) from Century Steel Erectors put the ceremonial beam into place during a 'topping out' ceremony December 14, 2012 for the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School building in Cranberry Township. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

With his arms raised toward the clear blue sky, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik on Friday blessed the first Catholic high school being built in Western Pennsylvania in more than 40 years.

The diocese celebrated the “topping off” of the skeletal structure of the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School off Route 228 in Cranberry. Workers placed a steel beam, which had been painted white and adorned with an American flag and a Christmas tree, into the framework. Zubik and construction workers signed the beam with black markers.

“This is really a dream come true because there are many people who said this couldn't happen, that this wouldn't happen, but because of the great enthusiasm of so many people who see the great value of Catholic education, today we have this historic moment,” Zubik said.

The school, Zubik said, is on track for a January 2014 completion, but students from North Catholic High School in Troy Hill won't begin attending classes there until that fall.

The school in Troy Hill has about 200 students. Zubik said that with a growing population in the Butler County area, the diocese expects to enroll about 1,000 students to the new school.

Mike Arnold, the diocese's chief facilities officer, said construction has been proceeding on time since June's groundbreaking, except for some weather-related delays because of Superstorm Sandy. The next step, he said, will be to enclose the building so that workers can begin interior construction.

The diocese is financing about $58.5 million of the $71 million project, said Frederick O'Brien, the diocese's chief financial officer. It is committing less than 3 percent of the diocese-wide $125 million fundraising campaign announced Friday toward the construction, he added, with tuition also expected to cover costs.

The school is named for Zubik's predecessor, Donald Wuerl, who leads the Washington D.C. Archdiocese.

The diocese constructed its last high school in 1967. Zubik said once the Troy Hill school closes, it will be put up for sale.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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