Lindsey Ward got her first look inside her son’s new school building Tuesday and was impressed by what she saw.

Ward’s oldest son is a first-grader at Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish Immersion School, which this fall relocated to Holy Family Catholic Schools’ Central Campus. Ward visited her son’s classroom during an open house Tuesday and was struck by how cozy and new everything looked.

“I’m really excited for our kids to get to experience this,” said Ward, who has two children who will start kindergarten at Our Lady of Guadalupe next fall.

About 150 people gathered at Holy Family’s Central Campus on Tuesday for a ribbon cutting and the open house. The event followed a spring and summer of renovations to bring Our Lady of Guadalupe to the campus, which already was home to Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School and Wahlert Catholic High School.

System officials renovated existing space at the Central Campus to create an environment suitable for younger students at Our Lady of Guadalupe, who moved this year from the school buildings at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

“It is a welcoming, warm and beautiful space,” said Phillip Bormann, Holy Family’s chief administrator. “... It is, for all intents and purposes, a new school, so we’re just really excited for that outcome.”

Bormann spoke to families and community members in attendance Tuesday, noting that the renovations to the Central Campus are a first step of many to bring the system’s strategic plan to life and give students 21st century facilities.

System leaders are in the midst of a $25 million Platform for Excellence fundraising campaign to pay for facility improvements and endowments supporting recruitment and retention, academic initiatives, teacher salaries and benefits and other efforts. They currently have about $1.2 million left to raise.

“We have set out for some ambitious goals for our strategic planning and, beyond that, for Catholic schools, and we really need to all come together and celebrate what is going to be, and is now, the forever home for the Our Lady of Guadalupe elementary Spanish immersion school,” Bormann told attendees.

Following the ribbon cutting with system leaders, students, Archbishop Michael Jackels and Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce representatives, Bormann led a group of attendees on a tour of the newly renovated space.

Officials budgeted $1.8 million for the renovation project and expect to come in under that amount, Bormann said after the tour, though exact costs still are being finalized.

John and Carol Balong, who have two grandsons at the Spanish immersion school, said they appreciated the renovated space’s wide corridors and functional, cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.

“It’s a beautiful space, very well planned,” Carol said. “As a retired teacher, I can’t imagine anything better.”

Jackson Lindsey is in sixth grade at Mazzuchelli but previously went to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He said it was a bit weird to be in middle school and have younger students on campus, but it is also fun.

“I like seeing the younger kids,” he said. “... It’s really nice.”

His younger brother, Sebastian, is a second-grader at Our Lady of Guadalupe and said he likes his new school building, noting that his favorite parts are the playground and gym.

“It’s nicer inside (than the old campus), and the cafeteria is nicer, and the gym is bigger, and it’s way more fun,” he said.

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