Marist High School Launches New, Cutting Edge Science Wing On First Day Of School

One freshman said science is the 'best class ever' after seeing new wing.

Bernie Tafoya
August 22, 2019 - 2:37 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Students at a Southwest Side Catholic high school started using a new, cutting-edge $15-million science wing on this first day of the academic year.

Marist High School principal Larry Tucker proudly shows off 10 new science labs in Monastery Hall, so named because the science wing used to be the monastery that housed as many as 35 brothers.

The wing includes a planetarium designed and installed by Spitz, a company used by the Adler Planetarium. The 30-seat space allows Marist to provide students with a curriculum developed by one of the leading astronomy educators in the country, Dr. David Bradstreet.

On Thursday morning, students in one class looked overhead as the teacher changed the view of Thursday’s actual sky into what it would look like Thursday night.

"Astronomy has become a pretty popular class among our kids," Tucker said.

There's also an anatomy lab that has two of the world’s most advanced pediatric patient simulators. One is of a young boy. The other is of an infant. The classroom includes a section walled off by glass to look like a hospital room.  

"You can take blood, you can give him a tracheotomy in here. You can do blood pressure. There’s a lot of things that it’s been programmed to do," Tucker said.

"With some of the set-ups that we have here, we could lead to even a pre-nursing program for kids who want to go into nursing, or a pre-pre-medicine program for those kids who want to go in. And, we thought, let’s build with the opportunity that kids can do more and will think about doing more and let’s try and meet their dreams and their goals."

Tucker said the school raised $15 million to renovate the old monastery into a new science wing.

"It’s our No. 2 major when our kids go on to college so we’ve continued to ask ourselves over the last so many years, are we doing enough for them?" he said.

The new forensic science lab includes a glass-walled area in which a crime scene simulation is set up. Right now, the OJ Simpson murder case is being examined by students who were not even alive when Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. 

Department head Carrie Spano said "that is a complete game-changer for them to be able to have a case to put substance to everything we’re saying."

Marist High School Science Lab
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Science teacher Kelly Giacobbe has been teaching for 17 years and calls the new facility "amazing."

"It’s so cutting edge and it’s going to give us so many greater opportunities with our students than we could have been afforded before," she said.

Science teacher Theresa Coy said the science wing unlike most high school science wings in the country.

"We are all very spoiled," she said. 

Coy said one student proclaimed science "the best class ever."  And, she points out with a laugh, it was his first day of high school.  

Marist High School Science Wing
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Department head Carrie Spano also likes that the science wing is 30,000 square feet, a far cry from what the school had before.

"Previously, we had to drag our kids across the building, in some cases, to get them into a lab that we had to sign out and share with everyone else," Spano said.