St. Edward High School holds groundbreaking ceremony for new performing arts center

It was more than 65 years ago, but St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin left an impression on Geoff Fox and his brother, Robert.

Geoff Fox was on hand Friday for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Fox Family Performing Arts Center. The $6 million theater addition is possible because of a contribution from the brothers that will cover roughly two-thirds of the cost.

"I only went here three years," Fox said. "But it was a really important three years of my life."

Fox was in the class of 1958, but his family moved to California at the end of his junior year after his brother's graduation.

"It really made a big impression," Fox said of his St. Edward years.

The 9,400-square-foot addition on the southwest portion of the existing school will have its own entrance, lobby, fixed seating for 280, dressing rooms and mechanical and electric support spaces.

The school's performance stage has been in the gymnasium since the early 1950s.

"This is going to be great for our students and the community," said Brian Tekampe, school superintendent.

Friday's groundbreaking featured a blessing from Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford Diocese.

"We think about the human excellence that can take place in a performing arts theater," Malloy said. "It is the opportunity for those human gifts to display interpretations of great works, of emotions, of all kinds of possibilities that deepen our soul."

Construction is expected to begin in a few weeks. The project will take 14 to 16 months to complete.

Hargrave Builders is handling the construction with architectural designs from Perkins and Will.

The idea for a new theater was first considered by the school in the early 1970s and then came up again in their strategic planning process in the early 2000s as they hoped to strengthen their performing arts program. Limited finances kept the plan on the back burner until the gift from the Fox brothers, founders of the Fox Head sports and clothing brand,

It's not the first time they've given back to the school. In 2015 the Fox Science Center was dedicated after a donation.

"We're in the position to give something back, my brother and I, so we're happy to do this," Fox said. "The need was there, and my experience here was fabulous."

An artist's rendering of the Fox Family Performing Arts Center coming to the Elgin campus of St. Edward Central Catholic High School. Courtesy of St. Edward Central Catholic High School
  Bishop David Malloy blesses the future site of the Fox Family Performing Arts Center at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin. Rick West/
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