FORWARD, ALWAYS FORWARD- Capital Campaign Surpasses $14 Million without Adding Long-Term Debt

Noell Barnidge
Benedictine Military School’s Forward, Always Forward Capital Campaign, which publicly began in August of 2014 and has grown from $4.1 million in cash and pledges to $14 million presently, is an ambitious endeavor that has been built on a foundation of financial stability. Not only is the capital campaign the largest project in the 117-year history of the school, but it is being achieved without incurring long-term debt.

“The fact that we have not involved ourselves in substantial financing of our projects is a further feather in the cap for the articulation and the credibility of this campaign to our potential donors and, for that matter, to our existing donors,” Benedictine Military School Headmaster Fr. Frank Ziemkiewicz, O.S.B., said. “As we continue in the final phases of this project, we need to continue to ensure our donors, our parents, our alumni, our board that we are holding to the guidelines that have been given to us. And, for that matter, much is owed to the Abbey (in Latrobe, Pa.) for providing us both manpower and the initial financial resources that allowed us to embark on this capital campaign. Archabbot Douglas (Nowicki, O.S.B.) is to be thanked for these efforts and for convincing the community that we were a credible investment for the Abbey’s efforts.”
BC has proven itself to be a credible investment in the eyes of the community, whose overwhelmingly supportive response to this calling will determine the value of a Benedictine education for future generations.

The list of completed projects is extensive. Some of the highlights in 2019 include the completion of Savannah’s largest NCAA regulation-size synthetic-turf athletic field for soccer, lacrosse and football; the addition of 1,600 new bleacher seats on the east side of the field; expansion and lighting of the Ricky McAllaster Lacrosse Field to a regulation size; and the lighting of the Brian Parker ’10 Baseball Field (2019).

“The 2018-19 school year was a whirlwind of progress and construction on campus,” Benedictine Military School Director of Advancement Mr. Greg Markiton ’92 said. “Once the Brown STEM Wing was fully funded in August of 2018, current board member and BC graduate Mr. Marty Hogan ’86 and his team of highly motivated volunteers, including Mr. Jason Barlow, Mr. Richard Geriner ’86, Dr. Frank Scarbrough, Mr. Tim Strickland ’85, and Mr. Brooks Zeigler ’01, began raising money for the turf field. We are so grateful for the time and energy they invested into our school community.

“Their leadership and passion encouraged so many of our parents, alumni, and friends to contribute to the transformation of our athletic complex, which included two $1 million contributions from Mr. Will Dorminy, and Mr. and Mrs. Mario De La Guardia ’79,” Markiton continued. “Today, because of the overwhelming support we’ve received, our 400 Cadets and so many other young people in the Savannah community are enjoying playing and practicing at this first-class facility named in honor of Fr. Albert Bickerstaff, O.S.B. Fr. Albert was a teacher, coach, and mentor for thousands of us BC Cadets and he would be so proud of this version of BC.”

In 2018, the original biology and chemistry laboratories were updated into four brand-new classrooms and Phase II of the 19,000-square-foot Brown STEM Wing was completed. In 2017, Phase I was completed.

“Our board has been absolutely enthusiastic about the further development of this school,” Ziemkiewicz said. “They recognized the need for it and they were willing to support it. And that support has been absolutely critical. I can’t thank the likes of Mr. Bill Schmidt, Mr. Mark Shawe and so many others enough for the leadership that they have given to us.”

In 2015, BC leased seven acres of unused land to HealthSouth (now Encompass Health), which will generate revenue for BC’s endowment to support student financial aid. In 2014, B-Wing was completely renovated with modern classrooms and renamed Brent Hall in honor of Mr. and Mrs. John Brent ’54.

“We did not borrow more than the pledge balances, or how much money we had raised,” Benedictine Military School Director of Operations and Finance Mrs. Barbara Evans said. “That way, when all those pledges are paid off, that construction loan is paid off. So we’re zero debt. We didn’t have to take out any loans beyond, because the members of the BC family contributed the money.”

Evans said BC hopes to begin construction on the parking lot, which will include components of security, in the summer of 2021.

“We never committed to more construction costs than what we knew we could to pay the construction loan back,” Evans said of the Brown STEM Wing. “That’s the same approach that’s going on with athletics. We raised the money to the field in. We raised the money to construct the bleachers. That was the next thing we said we could do. Everything we’re doing, we’re trying to think 10, 15, 20 years down the road so that we’re not hemming in the next people running this school.”

With an expanded campaign goal of $18 million, Benedictine Military School seeks $4 million to finish its remaining projects: $1 million to renovate the last remaining classrooms within the academic building; $2.5 million to improve the campus environment and security by rebuilding the front entrance and installing a new perimeter fence with a guard gate, while also expanding and repaving the parking lot from 210 spaces to 325; $500,000 to complete the athletic complex, including a concession stand, restroom, and athletic plaza.

“We look forward with gratefulness and excitement to meet our $18 million goal with the help of our loyal supporters who truly believe in the mission of Benedictine Military School,” Markiton said.