Andrean family sets course for future at 5959 Broadway

MERRILLVILLE – Among the Andrean High School family, thoughts, prayers, conversation and research have centered around one topic outside the core focus of the diocesan institution for many years – will the school stay, or will it move?
In a March letter from Andrean’s principal, Jaycob Knazur, interested parties learned that the home of the 59ers will remain at the familiar address of 5959 Broadway, as ideas for the revitalization of the Merrillville campus take shape.
“The fruit of the committee's wisdom proposed that we invest in our current campus in a practical, phased manner that properly honors the traditions of our past and the needs of our future through potential renovation, new on-site construction, and/or redevelopment,” wrote Knazur in a letter addressed to the “Andrean Family,” dated March 25.
Knazur stated his appreciation for those “respected individuals” who considered “the many factors, perspectives, trends, trade-offs, programming, donor capacity and tactile needs of what would be required to influence the desired future for Andrean and our ability to live out our mission.”
Turning the page for Andrean puts speculation about a new building site in South Lake County to rest and gives rise to the refreshed Andrean Initiative, which the principal stated is no small dream. “With this more defined direction, there is excitement to move forward at our current campus to ensure students' continued success but in a campus setting they have long deserved,” Knazur announced.
Teaming up with the superintendent of Catholic schools, Dr. Colleen Brewer, the administrators presented their findings to Bishop Robert J. McClory, who replied in a March 19 letter, expressing his gratitude for the extensive research that led to the proposed initiative.
The bishop affirmed the shifted focus to explore options for refurbishment or construction at the current campus. “Depending on timing and funding, I agree that it would be prudent to use a phased approach focusing on renovation and utilizing unused facets of the property to ensure the growth and vitality of Andrean High School.”
Andrean was dedicated in 1959 when the founding Bishop of Gary Andrew G. Grutka blessed the building and welcomed the first freshman class with students from Gary to Crown Point. “One of the first projects of the new diocese was the founding of a new Catholic high school,” according to “In the Presence of Angels: A History of the Diocese of Gary,” a book by senior priest Father Dominic Bertino.
Though Knazur and Bishop McClory communicated about structural ideas, their attention returned to those intangible components of Catholic education, which would preserve AHS as an educational light radiating faith, learning, leadership and service. They honored the beneficence of philanthropists who have supported Andrean and looked to a future of increased academic and civic partnership.
Bishop McClory expressed his enthusiasm in his letter: “I am pleased that this new strategy plans to include growing academic partnerships with various local colleges and universities.”
Knazur said the evaluation process for the future structural needs of Andrean has been “an arduous journey,” and something he inherited from previous administrations. “It has been an awesome responsibility to try to analyze this study and try to reach a suitable direction.”
Knazur explained that there were different viewpoints that included a potential move for the school as well as investing in the current campus location. “There have been a lot of thoughts, opinions and passion on both sides of the equation. For me, it’s very comforting and very inspiring to finally have a specific direction.”
The principal added that all the hallmarks of the Andrean experience – excellence in academics with high college placement, exciting 59ers athletics and an inspiring atmosphere of faith – will continue. And support remains strong from engaged parents, a “devoted and loyal” alumni base and philanthropic contributors.
Increased engagement with the surrounding communities can solidify Andrean as a “beacon” for education in the Merrillville area, according to Knazur.
Adding to the positive assessment, Knazur pointed to the generosity of the state legislature and the governor for their backing of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, which has helped hundreds of families to afford the education that is right for their children, and has, in turn, boosted enrollment.
Knazur said that support from the Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana initiative has also been a godsend.
Following the same compass, Brewer said the focus on building improvements does not eclipse the priorities of Andrean’s faith-based education that mirror the 20 academic institutions of the diocese. As a former principal, Brewer said she is happy to get the ball rolling with a clear direction for the years ahead.
“I’m happy there is movement; we needed to announce something because I know people need clarity,” said Brewer. “So much of my role is helping the schools live out their mission. In this case, for Andrean, it (means that)...we are able to move forward, and reimagine ... what that means from a physical standpoint, as well as an educational standpoint.”
Sharing in the excitement of the school’s refocused initiative, the Town of Merrillville released a statement in March. “The municipality is delighted to learn of Andrean High School's decision to remain at 5959 Broadway in Merrillville,” council president Rick Bella said. “With a tenure spanning back to 1959, the institution holds a significant place in our community, and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with Andrean to facilitate their renovation and expansion endeavors.”
Knazur hopes the faithful will stay tuned as committees hammer out details of how they will advise the steps to help make a “21st century Andrean” a reality.


Caption: Andrean High School, christened in 1959 by founding Bishop of Gary Andrew G. Grutka, is located at 5959 Broadway in Merrillville. Studies over the past eight years have culminated in the recommendation accepted by school leaders, the superintendent of Catholic schools and Bishop Robert J. McClory that the academic institution should remain on the present campus and commence improvements instead of proposed new construction elsewhere. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)