3000 53rd Street SW, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Students embarking on a science experiment involving burners and chemicals need a good laboratory. Or a blessing from God.
St. John Neumann students have both.
Collier County’s lone Catholic high school dedicated its 5,100-square-foot science center Wednesday. Bishop Frank Dewane was on hand to bless the new facility.
“We dedicate this building to the education of you, the progression of science and learning,” he said.
Following the short ceremony, Dewane blessed the new science center with holy water.
Tony Grasso’s honors chemistry class used the chemistry lab Wednesday afternoon to measure the percent of oxygen in potassium chlorate. The students, clad in safety goggles, mixed potassium chlorate and manganese dioxide powders together in test tubes and put them over a flame to burn off the oxygen.
“This was originally a college chemistry lab, so all the hoods exceed safety requirements,” Grasso told his students and a group of adults and children who came to the dedication. “Which is great for us because we want to show up with the same number of students in the same physical condition we started with.”
The science center was originally part of the Ave Maria University campus when the school’s campus was located at the Vineyards. Once the university moved to the town of Ave Maria, the institute’s officials agreed to donate the science center to St. John Neumann, provided Neumann could pay for the relocation expenses.
The center’s chemistry lab was dedicated Wednesday to Bob and Mary Carsello, who school officials said were instrumental in bringing the science center to Neumann.
“We know we would not have this place without you,” said Dewane. “We want to say thank you for all you have done to make this possible.”
A surprise presentation honoring the couple began as school officials showed them the plaque that will hang at The Robert and Mary Carsello Chemistry Lab. It reads, “Named in honor of their generosity and support of St. John Neumann High School.”
Carsello’s grandchildren, one of whom attends St. John Neumann High School and two others who will eventually attend the high school, were present for the ceremony.
Mary Carsello said she was surprised at the honor.
“I am just so happy the children have a nice place to learn. It does my heart good,” she said. “This is a great day. It has been a long time coming. But we persevered.”
Bob Carsello, retired chief executive officer of Kraft Construction, said he was doing what he had to do.
“I want to assist Catholic education as much as I can,” he said. “This is a complete surprise. I was just taken aback.”
The science center includes a chemistry, biology and physics lab, a classroom and a computer lab.
“This is an opportunity for our students to expand their experience in the lab,” said St. John Neumann Principal Denny Denison.
Neumann sophomore Ashley Kobza, 16, said she liked the new science lab.
“It’s cool,” Ashley said. “We definitely have more space to work with.”