A summer of anticipation in Playa del Rey came to a happy end Aug. 20 as the St. Bernard High School community celebrated the feast of St. Bernard and showcased a host of welcome changes on their campus. It was also the installation of a new principal for the school, Dr. Cynthia Hoepner, the day to welcome back students and parents, and recognition of those who especially made the renovation of the school campus possible. The renovations at St. Bernard have provided an improved learning environment and many welcome additions to support student school-wide learning. Renovated and updated learning and work areas throughout the whole school include new furniture, paint and lighting in hallways and work spaces, renovated main office, remodeled science labs and lecture room, a new computer lab, the addition of WiFi throughout the school, a teacher’s work room, and re-allocated space to enhance study, learning and success.The placement of academic offices in student learning areas will allow for greater ease and access, such as the addition of the Hannon College Center near the crossroads of academic hallways.St. Bernard’s revised schedule allows for seven periods, and time in the school day for extracurricular offerings away from the regular academic schedule; more emphasis on college preparatory offerings apart from elective offerings; and with the new Hannon College Center, greater college preparation.The new student lounge area enables students waiting to go home to stay in the school building and study until they’re ready to go home. A second-floor student library offers quiet work space after school. With the renovations has come a renewed spirit at the 55-year-old campus, as noted by Kathy Aikenhead, president of the William H. Hannon Foundation, and a niece of Bill Hannon, a longtime supporter and neighbor of the school."My uncle, whose office was two blocks from here, would often walk the streets nearby,” she noted. “This was his favorite school in the neighborhood. And he would walk over here unannounced — pop in, talk to the students and see how things were going. And I'll tell you, if he were alive today, he would just be so amazed at the transformation at this school, and he would be so pleased to see how it has been beautified. It is on its way up again."Aikenhead emphasized that her uncle was a builder, and especially believed in schools as builders. "My uncle knew that education builds kids," she said. “We take care of what we have planted and we like to keep it growing."The William H. Hannon Foundation was one of several leading contributors to the St. Bernard renovation, along with the Shea Family Foundation, Fritz B. Burns Foundation and Dan Murphy Foundation. They were gratefully acknowledged by school and archdiocesan officials present, which included Sister of Charity Mary Elizabeth Galt, archdiocesan chancellor, and Msgr. Royale Vadakin, pastor emeritus of St. Anastasia Church in nearby Westchester and retired archdiocesan Vicar General.During her welcome to donors, representatives from the Archdiocese and other organizations, parents and students, principal Hoepner drew attention to the many people who made the renovations possible, and especially to the students who not only are beneficiaries of such generosity, but are also the reason that St. Bernard High School exists.Students, for their part, like the direction of the renovated school. Junior Marquis Cox “likes the closeness, the community feel” in his school. “We all come together to cheer each other.” And he really looks forward to the renovations, “especially the student union or lounge. We have a place to relax before and after school."Sophomore Thomas Kay said he enjoys “the family we have here at St. Bernard's. Not like family at home, but here everyone takes care of you.” “We have to move forward,” added Carolyn Quijano, St. Bernard secretary, who has worked for 49 years in the high schools of the archdiocese. “And I am happy to see that approach by our new principal. It is a good style. We are a treasure here. And I think we are going in the right direction.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0906/stbernard/{/gallery}