Rendering of Pope Francis High School Springfield Mass Pope Francis High School

Rendering of Pope Francis High School, Springfield, Mass.

Work begins on new Catholic high school in Springfield, Mass.

Cathedral and Holyoke high schools are merging to form Pope Francis High School.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Mass., has broken ground on a new high school that will take the place of two existing schools.

WWLP-TV reports that new Pope Francis High School is being built in Springfield to replace Cathedral High School, whose Springfield campus was destroyed in June 2011 by a tornado, and Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee, Mass.

"It’s been a long way since June 1, 2011 and we got here,” says Michele D’Amour, the chair of Pope Francis High School Board. “We got here in unity, working hard together, getting over the bumps and moving forward toward a new day in Catholic education in the diocese."

Construction of the $55 million campus will take two years; the school is expected to open for the 2018-2019 school year.

The new school is being built on the site of the Cathedral campus. After the tornado, Cathedral students were relocated to a vacant elementary school for several years; for 2016-17, they have moved to the Holyoke campus, where they will remain until the new school is ready to open.

The combined school has a 2016-17 enrollment of 365. The Pope Francis facility will have a capacity for 450 students and could expand to 600, the diocese says.

Video from WWLP-TV:

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