New Kensington school builds patio for relocated Ten Commandments monument
It’s been almost two years since a Ten Commandments monument removed from Valley High School under a federal court agreement was relocated to Mary Queen of Apostles School in New Kensington.
Soon, the monument’s new home will be complete.
Work started this week on a patio surrounding the 6-foot-tall monument and the school’s sign along Freeport Road.
It’s expected to be done before the Catholic school resumes classes Aug. 26, school business Manager Bill Staniszewski said.
The monument was removed from in front of Valley High School in March 2017 after the New Kensington-Arnold School District settled a 2012 federal lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of a district resident whose daughter attended the school.
The foundation argued that the monument’s presence in front of the public school violated the separation of church and state under the First Amendment. The settlement required the monument to be removed.
The New Kensington Eagles had donated the monument to the school district in 1957.
In December 2017, the monument was unveiled in front of Mary Queen of Apostles. It’s incorporated into the school’s sign.
Principal Cathy Collett said the monument was placed on the side of the sign facing traffic heading toward Lower Burrell because it can be seen for a longer time from that direction than the other.
The patio will make it possible “that as people walk by, they’re able to stop and take a look and say a prayer and thank God for all the freedoms that they do have in America,” she said.
Crews with Rockway Concrete were working on the patio Thursday. Staniszewski would not disclose the cost of the patio but said the school has received $35,000 in monument-related donations that will cover all of the project costs.
At the same time, workers with Moret Construction were replacing portions of a sidewalk along Elmtree Road in an unrelated project.
Collett said the school will hold a service to mark the end of the project, possibly in early September. She said the ceremony will include prayers and cheers.
The school will announce the time and date on its Facebook page. Members of the community will be able to attend.
“We’re really excited to have this all ending,” Collett said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .