SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday marks four years since a deadly tornado cut a path of destruction from Westfield to Charlton, and while numerous homes and businesses have been rebuilt, one of the largest structures destroyed by the twister has not. The severely damaged Cathedral High School building on Surrey Road remained standing for years after the storm, but has finally been completely knocked down. Whether a new school will go up in its place, however, remains uncertain.
Since the June 1, 2011 tornado, Cathedral students have been attending classes at the former Memorial School building in Wilbraham. The future of the high school had been the subject of much speculation since the tornado. While then-Bishop Timothy McDonnell announced the school would be rebuilt on Surrey Road, his successor, Mitchell Rozanski, began holding a series of meetings to discuss the future of the school, and obstacles to its reconstruction- including dwindling enrollment and a shrinking local Catholic population.
Bishop Rozanski announced back in February that Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic would be merging into a single regional Catholic high school, though it is not clear exactly where that will be located. While the Surrey Road site is one of the possibilities, the Diocese is considering alternative locations including Diocese-owned property on Brush Hill Road in West Springfield, and a parcel of land on Route 33 in Chicopee, owned by St. Stanislaus Parish. Mark Dupont, spokesperson for the Diocese, told 22News that a final decision will be announced next month.
Rozanski said that no matter where the new school is built, they would hope to have it open by the fall of 2016.