Perino Science Center dedicated at St. Bede, becomes new school entrance

Alumnus Angelo Perino cuts the ribbon to the new Perino Science Center at St. Bede Academy in Peru, while Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, and Andrea Perino hold it steady. Among those looking on are, from left, Michelle Mershon, principal of St. Bede; Matt McGinnis, director of the Legacy Project; and Dr. Ted Struck, superintendent of St. Bede. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

PERU — Expressing great gratitude for the gifts made and hard work undertaken over the last three years, Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, offered a prayer of blessing as the new Perino Science Center at St. Bede Academy was dedicated Aug. 19.

“Come and see our new home,” he said, as he prepared to walk through the 17,500-square-foot addition to the school and sprinkle holy water in the collaborative learning center, state-of-the-art laboratories for biology, chemistry, and physics, and a 2,800-square-foot student commons.

The Perino Science Center at St. Bede Academy, located between the main building and the Worship Assembly Building, includes state-of-the-art labs for biology, chemistry and physics and a student commons. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The center also includes a gathering space, staff workroom, conference room, storage space, and an elevator. The temperature in the building is regulated by geothermal technology.

The project cost $6.5 million, which was fully funded with gifts and pledges made by alumni and friends of St. Bede. Putting them over the top was a major gift from alumnus Angelo Perino, his wife, Andrea, and their family.

“As we worked on campus planning in recent years, the need for a new science center and commons, integrating student and academic life, continued to be an essential addition to our campus,” according to Dr. Ted Struck, St. Bede superintendent. “Angelo and Andrea and our Legacy Project supporters share that vision with us and have put student life first in their support of St. Bede’s future with their generous gifts to accomplish this project.”

“The school had a very significant impact on my life and I have always been of the opinion that you should give back where you can,” said Angelo Perino, who graduated in 1980 and now serves as the North America Enterprise Applications Delivery Leader for IBM.

“I’m happy to be able to give back in this important endeavor because I think St. Bede needed to make a statement in the community that it was going to be here for a long time,” he said. “This wonderful building does exactly that.”


“St. Bede always had a very strong science curriculum and the state of our laboratories was poor. This was clearly the way to go with this phase,” said Legacy Project director Matt McGinnis, a 1985 graduate of St. Bede Academy.

The gathering space, collaborative learning center and entrance to the biology lab can be seen from the mezzanine level of the new Perino Science Center at St. Bede Academy in Peru. The $6.5 million project was dedicated Aug. 19. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“We think it’s a wonderful signal for a bright future,” he told The Catholic Post during the open house that followed the dedication Mass and ceremony. “People are raving about the building.”

McGinnis admitted to being “blown away” when he walked into the new science center and said seeing renderings and sketches had not prepared him for the scale of what he saw.

“It just really exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I had a lot of confidence in the team that was building it, so it really just makes me very proud to have been part of it.”

The science center and student commons were designed by StudioGC Architecture and Interiors. The contractors were Vissering Construction Company and JB Contracting Corporation.

Abbot Philip said for him it was a gradual revelation, since his room at St. Bede Abbey is across from new addition.

“Every day there was another little bit of a dream being realized,” he said. “To find out how they put things together and see the evolution over time, it was like every couple of days there was a miracle. It was an exciting thing to see it coming to life.”

He added that given all the things that are happening in the church and the importance of Catholic secondary education, it is more important than ever to help people understand the faith and live it in a deeper way.

“This is really a commitment to trying to keep the church relevant and meaningful and part of the future,” Abbot Philip said. “If we don’t do that, God knows where we’re going to end up.”


Students like Pamela Needs and Anna Postula, seniors, appreciate the work that has been done on their behalf.

Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, blesses a statue of St. Bede that stands at the entrance to the first floor of St. Bede Academy from the new Perino Science Center. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“I think it exceeds expectations,” said Postula, who takes anatomy and economics in the new center and has study hall there. “I feel like I can learn more with all the SMART boards here. It makes the learning experience easier and better.”

That happens because the students and the teachers can both draw on the white boards, she explained.

“It’s a lot more interactive,” said Needs, who has classes in advanced placement physics and economy there, as well as study hall. “All the updated equipment makes the labs easier. . . . We can all effectively work.”

The next phase of the Legacy Project is still being determined, according to Abbot Philip. He said there is a bit of “culture shock” for students as they go back and forth from the Perino Science Center and the main building, where the air conditioning and facilities are dated.

“Work needs to be done to make that a comfortable education space,” he said.

At the same time, the sports facilities are also in need of attention.

“We have to see where God leads us and go from there,” Abbot Philip said.

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