Members of the Bishop McNamara High School board of directors, faculty, and friends of the Forestville, Maryland school broke ground for the new La Reine Science and Innovation Center in a ceremony attended by many state, county and city officials, as well former La Reine High School teachers and students, on Dec. 12.

“This is a great day for Bishop McNamara,” Rob Summers, chairman of the board of directors at Bishop McNamara High School, said during welcoming remarks to those in attendance. “The significance to this day cannot be overstated. It’s a giant step to this institution, the students, faculty and the local community we serve.” 

The La Reine Science and Innovation Center, expected to open in June 2021, will bring to life technology, collaboration and discovery through classes in science, technology, cybersecurity, engineering, entrepreneurship and multimedia. In addition to expanding Bishop McNamara’s academic programming, the center will host events for the greater community, such as adults in Career Technology Education certificate programs.

“This is just the culmination of a dream,” Marco Clark, president and CEO of Bishop McNamara said. “This is truly a resurrection day… It is because of the participation of remarkable individuals, corporations, foundations, partners, our faculty and staff, our students and friends like you that today is heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.”

The “dream” he said, began in 2010, with a campus master plan released in 2012 and the commencement of fundraising efforts in 2014. 

The current design plan for the center includes a legacy gate, which honors the members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross brothers who taught at Bishop McNamara High School and the Bernardine Franciscan sisters who taught at the former La Reine High School. Members from both of the religious orders were present at the groundbreaking ceremony, including Sister Kateri Peake, who was the principal of La Reine High School for more than 20 years.

“It is your legacy that this building is built on,” Clark said. “... It is their legacy that these schools stand on today.” 

La Reine High School, an all-girl’s Catholic high school formerly in Suitland, Maryland closed in 1992 due to low enrollment. Bishop McNamara High School then began to open its doors to female students. 

Clark called the groundbreaking for the La Reine Science and Innovation Center a “momentous” occasion. 

“Today is a momentous day in so many ways for our school community, the local community,” he said. “It’s a momentous day for the Bishop McNamara students, the future generations of young men and young women whose lives will be transformed by the new opportunities that this center will provide for them. And it's a momentous day for Forestville and District Heights whose citizens will benefit from the skills they will acquire through our workplace learning center.

“And it’s a momentous day to Prince George’s County, and the state of Maryland, and our great nation which will benefit from the contributions of young people who will drive innovation and discovery for generations to come. We are proud to be a part of this new renaissance of our area and we welcome all of you as partners in this adventure,” Clark said.

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr. blesses the site of the planned La Reine Science and Innovation Center during a Dec. 12 ceremony at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr., opened the ceremony in prayer and blessed the ground where the future center will stand. 

“Your gift to us allows us to see and ponder the beauty of your creation, you call us to explore our environment,” the bishop prayed. “We pray that what we start here today will blossom into a foundation for additional science and innovation centers throughout our county.”

Steve and Diane Proctor, honorary campaign co-chairs for the Bishop McNamara High School Faith. Family. Future! Capital Campaign, shared their gratitude for the generosity of the community and for the support the campaign has received from so many. 

“What is happening here today is going to change future lives for generations,” Steve Proctor said. 

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and Senator Melony Griffith also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as other delegates from the Maryland House of Delegates as well as representatives from the Office of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.