Local Schools

Ward’s Cyclone Center boasts state-of-the-art technology

Marsha Basey, Bishop Ward class of 1962, is impressed by the new high tech computers at her alma mater’s Cyclone Center. The modern learning space was previously an underutilized library. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

by Moira Cullings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Geoffrey Kump arrived on the second floor of Bishop Ward High School here, his excitement was evident.

“There’s two big emotions that pop out,” said Kump, Bishop Ward class of 2011. “One: extreme jealousy. I would’ve loved to have had this.

“But the other piece that I see now is this is how Ward differentiates itself, looking toward a new group of students in the future.”

Kump, a board of trustees member for his alma mater, was taking in the school’s new Cyclone Center.

Geoffrey Kump admires the new high tech computers at Bishop Ward High School’s new Cyclone Center. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Formerly a library lined with bookshelves, the 2100-square-foot space is now a modern academic learning hub.

Its purpose is summed up in the writing on the walls: community, confidence and collaboration.

The space’s new active learning furniture and 15 high-tech computers will change the game — literally — for students for decades to come.

Bishop Ward welcomed donors to view the center on Feb. 8.

Jay Dunlap, president, greeted the guests while Emily Saatcioglu, academic dean, shared the Cyclone Center’s vision before Father Timothy Skoch, chaplain, blessed the space.

Jay Dunlap, president of Bishop Ward High School, talks with those gathered for an unveiling on Feb. 8. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Saatcioglu said the message the space sends to students is clear.

“We always tell them: ‘This space is for you,’” she said. “This is where you are going to form yourselves as young individuals before you leave our building.

“I think they’re blown away.”

Dream big

Kathy Calcara, grant professional at Bishop Ward, said the library once served its purpose.

“Everything changed,” she said. “Kids now carry their library with them in a Chromebook or their computer.”

Active learning furniture, new lighting and fresh paint are just some of the features that make Bishop Ward’s Cyclone Center a positive learning environment for students. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

The school needed an update to suit today’s learners.

“Books weren’t getting checked out,” said Calcara. “It wasn’t robust.

“So, we did have this really ambitious vision and a dream for our library to become something more collegiate, something more aesthetically beautiful — a place that could be for a big group of 70 or a small group of two people working together being tutored.”

In the two months it’s been in use, the Cyclone Center has already become a popular hub for the school and its community partners.

The space has accommodated and will continue to welcome multiple groups, including FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), KC Scholars, REACH mentors and SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers).

High tech computers will set students up for success in areas like graphic design, computer programming, yearbook and esports. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Saatcioglu said it’s the perfect space for the school’s junior and senior seminar program, which helps students with postsecondary planning. The school hopes to round out the program by including freshmen and sophomores, too.

Now, students can use the high-tech computers for things like graphic design, computer programming and yearbook, but especially for esports, which is an official team at Bishop Ward that students can pursue college scholarships in.

“Regardless of what opportunities you have outside of school,” said Kump, “you can now feel like you have the top-of-the-line equipment to compete against anyone in any program in the country.”

Community effort

The Cyclone Center was made possible thanks to a $125,000 grant by the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation.

Eight foundations provided the basis of giving, said Calcara, “and then over 60 alumni and friends finished it off at our Fund-A-Need last October.”

Father Timothy Skoch blesses the new Cyclone Center space on the second floor of Bishop Ward High School. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

One of the donors was Church of the Nativity in Leawood, which Bishop Ward has partnered with for around 15 years.

“We just love Church of the Nativity,” said Calcara, “because they’ve been with us every step of the way with this.

“Their parishioners are making a difference here in Kansas City, Kansas.” The active learning furnishings were provided by Scott Rice Furnishings of Lenexa. The new carpet was put in by Campione Interior Solutions.

The father of one of Bishop Ward’s seniors who owns a painting company added fresh paint to the space.

Since the school was built in 1932, it doesn’t have HVAC but was able to install it in the Cyclone Center.

Bishop Ward also had help from Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, St. James Academy in Lenexa and Rockhurst High School and St. Teresa’s Academy, both in Kansas City, Missouri.

Leaders from Bishop Ward visited each location for input on the process of creating a modern learning space.

They knew how important it was to get everything right.

“Because none of it works without a bold, strong academic vision,” said Calcara. “And we knew it had to be tailored for our urban core students, many of whom are first generation.”

The new Cyclone Center at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, is a space that was carefully designed to set students up for success through its active learning furniture and high-tech computers. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Around 86% of Bishop Ward’s students will be the first in their families to attend college.

Like the students before them, they will now be set up for success, thanks in no small part to the many opportunities they’ll have in the Cyclone Center.

“Bishop Ward High School is right here on 18th Street,” said Calcara, “and we’re staying here. We’re not going anywhere.”

To view more photos of the Cyclone Center, click here.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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1 Comment

  • This is great! Bringing the students into the 21st century. Sure is awesome from when I graduated in 1968. Keep up the excellent work.