St. Mark’s is hoping to raise $4.2 million for their $8 million investment plans.

eSports, virtual reality among St. Mark’s ‘Renewing’ goals

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

St. Mark’s is hoping to raise $4.2 million for their $8 million investment plans.

St. Mark’s is hoping to raise $4.2 million for their $8 million investment plans.

St. Mark’s is launching a campaign to raise $8 million to invest in athletics, innovation, technology, the arts and the school’s endowment. 

“Not a single cent of tuition money will go towards the project,” said Tom Fertal, president of St. Mark’s. “The majority is going to come just from our donors, who could be alumni, parents, or friends of the school.”

So far, the high school, which is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, has raised $5.8 million for its “Renewing the Vision” campaign, officials announced this week. 

Some of the larger donations include $250,000 from the Longwood Foundation, $150,000 from Welfare Foundation, and $25,000 from The Laffey-McHugh Foundation.

Here’s how St. Mark’s plans to spend the $8 million: 

Athletics and student fitness – $2.5 million. The largest allocation will install a fitness and training center, install and develop a wrestling facility and multi-purpose space, and develop a master campus plan for the outdoor athletic facilities.

Endowment – $2 Million. That investment will help the school further its mission of making faith-based education available to all within the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. It provides  tuition assistance for students in financially vulnerable positions and help support operational costs.

Innovation and technology – $1 million. The school will create a robotics lab and makerspace, renovating the television room into a media and broadcast studio, developing an augmented reality learning lab, and creating an eSports Center.

Fine and performing arts – $1 million. Another million will be spent to renovate the theater control room, upgrade theater sound and lighting, create a new art studio, upgrade the band room, and renovate the stage, dressing rooms, theater and orchestra room.

The fund for St. Mark’s – $900,000 annually. This fund supports professional development, tuition assistance, and student programming and enrichment activities.

Campus ministry and student life – $800,000. The school will install a low ropes/leadership challenge course, creating an outdoor gathering space featuring a multi-use pavilion, outdoor shrine of Our Lady of Wilmington and renovating the Student Leadership Center. 

Fertal said that while schools face the challenge of simply updating technology to bring it to modern standards, St. Mark’s is going above and beyond.

“Everybody has a science lab, but the next evolution is incorporating virtual reality or augmented reality into the lab, and that’s what we’re investing in with our Augmented Reality Lab,” he said, “so it’s much more than just updating.”

The eSports center that St. Mark’s will build reflects the “blossoming and global $200 billion industry.”

“It’s not just having a couple of computers in a room for gaming,” he said. “We’re talking about eSports curriculum and partnerships with colleges that have eSports programs, like the University of Delaware and Wilmington University.”

Because students have to apply and pay thousands of dollars in tuition money, Fertal said St. Mark’s must be competitive to draw students.

“But our focus is always on the students, so when I talk about competition, it’s not about ‘Hey, look at the shiny new things I have’” he said. “I do these things because it improves the experiences of our students.”

St. Mark’s has already built the eSports center, which it plans to unveil in November, and has renovated the theater dressing rooms. 

The other projects will be completed over the course of the next three or so years, Fertal said. 

“We want to provide cutting edge technology and resources to our students and faculty,” he said.

“We don’t live in a bubble. The way a college serves as part of the greater community, that’s how we view St. Mark’s in Delaware.”

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