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SIOUX CITY -- From a dream to a reality, Bishop Heelan High School Principal Chris Bork has enjoyed seeing the new Heelan education wing start to take shape. 

"I've been here for 19 years as a teacher and administrator, so this is tremendously exciting," he said.

Attached to the Fine Arts Center, which opened in 2014, the high school academic wing will provide new space for classrooms, administration offices, a counseling center and chaplain offices.

The $10 million addition will replace the current high school, which has been a part of the district since 1949.

The building will also contain significant upgrades in technology connections, as well as new lecture and science labs and learning centers in which students can conduct group work.

Bork said the new wing will also increase safety and time spent on education. 

Currently, students have to walk from the high school and across the street to the Fine Arts Facility.

"We'll definitely benefit from better security and student safety by not walking between buildings," he said.

With a centralized location, Bork said the time saved walking from facility to facility will add as much as a half-hour of academic time per day. 

"We may gain 30 minutes cutting down on passing time," he said. "Thirty minutes across 180 days, that's a significant amount of education we could gain."

The new building will also contain an elevator and improve handicap accessibility.

The academic wing is one of a handful of steps towards a new era at Heelan.

The $15 million Fine Arts facility was Phase I of the new facility project. At 37,600 square feet, the building contains a 600-seat auditorium for plays, concerts and musicals, practice areas and an open music room for jazz and concert bands.

Last fall, Heelan opened a new administration building at 50 13th St. 

The Father Patrick Walsh Administration Offices, named after the former Heelan president, was previously the Liberty National Bank Building at 205 Pearl St. 

Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, purchased the structure from the City of Sioux City for $7,500 and wanted to move it Ho-Chunk's headquarters in Winnebago, Nebraska.

However, the high cost of moving the structure across the Siouxland Veterans Memorial Bridge snuffed out those plans.

Bishop Heelan acquired the structure from Ho-Chunk Inc. for $1 in October 2015.

The previous administrative office was in an old convent next to the high school.

Bork said the transformation of a lot across from the existing high school to a new, state-of-the-art building is a testament to the value the community places on education.

"It's great to offer all the students the new opportunities," he said. "We're seeing the support of those who have generously donated and funded this project and we're seeing those efforts come to fruition."


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