Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Johnathon Kelso
An exterior view of the new St. Joan of Arc Field House at St. Pius X High School. Students voted on the name for the new building.


St. Joan of Arc Field House changes the game for student athletes  

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published April 18, 2024

ATLANTA—On game days, Mary Perrin Carpenter, a varsity Golden Lions lacrosse player, rushes to her car to grab her lacrosse stick, cleats and uniform to make it to the pre-game meal and team meeting.   

Teammates at St. Pius X High School face a similar sprint, hustling to a far parking lot to get their equipment. Others ask a teacher’s permission to drop their gear in a classroom corner for the day.    

Later, the lacrosse team crowds together in the Donnellan Center to go over game strategy, squeezing in the cramped space. At times, runners from the track team share the too-tight locker room.  

The opening of the St. Joan of Arc Field House will change the situation.  

“Having it in your car is not ideal. It’s not very nice smelling,” said Carpenter about her equipment. “I feel like we’ll have lots of opportunities spread out more. We’ve grown the program a lot in the past couple years, so it’s going to be nice to feel we’ve kind of not only grown as a team, but the school has also recognized it.”  

The field house—known on campus as “The Arc” – is the final project of the $14.2 million Ring the Bells Capital Campaign at the Atlanta high school. 

Fulfilling strategic plan  

Built behind Maloof Stadium on a former softball field, the 26,000-square-foot building includes a strength and conditioning facility, athletic training room, locker rooms, offices, storage and two classrooms. School leaders were to celebrate the building’s opening with a ribbon cutting on April 16. Sports teams will likely move in for the fall season.  

Students voted on the name. It’s the first building named for a woman on campus.  

Athletic Director Todd Mooney said The Arc gives students the advantage of year-round preparation, training and rehabilitation, an advantage the current facility lacks.  

In 2016, a strategic plan identified the need for a new athletic building for the campus of 1,064 students. The Donnellan Center is a dated, cramped facility where multiple boys’ and girls’ teams share one locker space. An undersized weight room limits students from exercising.  

A hub for all students 

The new facility is larger, which will encourage more student involvement. 

School President Arron Parr envisions the building as a hub of campus life.  

Students Will Klein, left, and Reid Bentley, right, use the new locker rooms at the St. Joan of Arc Field House at St. Pius X High School. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

“It doesn’t just have to be someone that’s participating in a sport. It can be for someone who is just a student that wants to work out and learn how to work out,” he said. “Before, there was just no room for those students, now there’s room for every student.”  

The Ring the Bells Capital Campaign fundraising changed the campus’ look by enclosing it to make it more secure. It also added improvements to the school library. The Arc and the final additions to the Seaver Family Sports Complex complete the campaign, the largest in the school’s history.   

Campus leaders are reimagining how to use rooms vacated by sports teams. If the school receives a successful grant application, it plans to convert the current strength and training area in the Donnellan Center into a dedicated room for science, technology, engineering and math classes.  

New spaces, opportunities 

The Arc’s new weight room promises to impact teams’ goals, along with the school sports culture. Up to 120 students will be able to use it at one time.  

Sixteen-year-old Cate Chandler, a sophomore soccer player, said the facility will boost team chemistry, a fundamental part of a successful squad. Coming together shapes how the team plays, as does better access to strength training to prevent injury, she said.  

“What you do off the field is just important as what you do on the field,” said Chandler.  

A view of the weight room inside the new St. Joan of Arc Field House at St. Pius X High School. The new field house was part of the “Ring the Bells” capital campaign. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

For lacrosse player Will Klein, 17, a junior, the added space means his team can incorporate strength training into their practices.  

“The standards will be higher for everyone because they won’t really have the excuse of not being able to go lift,” Klein said. 

His classmate Reid Bentley, 17, who plays football and wrestles, is eager for a dedicated wrestling room instead of sharing quarters with the baseball team.  

“It’s definitely challenging without having that space where we’re kind of all together, and we can definitely come closer as a team, for sure,” Bentley said. “And so, with the new Arc, we have that, and I’m excited to use it.”