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Newman music room to be named after Al Zook

MASON CITY ñ The new music room that will be built soon at Newman Catholic Schools will be named after the late Al Zook, a former Mason City Council member who was a longtime Newman supporter.|MASON CITY ñ The new music room that will be built soon at Newman Catholic Schools will be named after the late Al Zook, a former Mason City Council member who was a longtime Newman supporter.

Construction of the 5,600-square foot room, which will double as a storm shelter big enough to house all students at the schools, is expected to begin May 24, said Newman Development Director Lynn Ptacek.

Newman Catholic Schools received a $740,000 federal grant to build the shelter. The overall cost of the addition, which will be built adjacent to the north side of the Newman complex, just east of the gymnasium entrance, is estimated at $1.2 million. The remaining $460,000 will come from donations of Newman supporters through the recent Building Newman…Forever Capital Campaign.

The music room will be home for Newman’s band and vocal students and include five soundproof rooms for practice and lessons. As a storm shelter, the facility will hold 856 people. The project is expected to be completed by January of 2012.

“This is a win-win project for Newman students and the North Iowa community,” Steve Anderegg, president of the Newman Board of Education, said in a weekend press release on the project. “A construction project of this size will also impact our local economy.”

Zook, who died of cancer in 2008, was a former Parish Council chairman at Holy Family Catholic Church, a Boy Scouts leader, and helped raise funds for the Newman Daycare building.

Ptacek, speaking Thursday to the Mason City Noon Kiwanis Club, provided an overview of Newman Catholic Schools and introduced its new marketing coordinator, Nicole Betz.

Newman Catholic Schools employs 159 people including teachers, staff and coaches, and has a payroll of about $2.5 million a year, Ptacek said.

She said the school will be adding a kindergarten teacher for the next school year. Already there are 52 kindergartners enrolled for next fall, up from 45 this year. Overall, there are 245 children in the Newman daycare program and 565 in kindergarten through 12th grade, she said.

“It’s a good place to be,” said Ptacek. Newman High School students each perform more than 100 hours of community service by the time they graduate, well exceeding the minimum requirement of 50 hours, she said.

Among the programs students volunteer with are Community Kitchen, Toys for Tots, Shop with a Cop, making blankets for Francis Lauer Youth Services, and participating in Coaches vs. Cancer events.

Tuition at the high school is $2,900 a year. Actual costs are more than $5,000 per student, said Principal Tony Adams. The difference is made up by support from local Catholic churches, fundraisers and other sources.

Ptacek said there are financial aid programs to help ensure that low-income students who want to attend Newman are able to do so.

Among other facts she shared:
There have been three National Merit Scholars in the past five years.

There are more than 20 extracurricular activities offered, including sports.

The school will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in September.

To learn more about the Newman Catholic School System or the Building Newman…Forever campaign, visit or contact Betz at 641-424-6638.

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