JCA plans recreation of the Victory Light
By Bob Okon email@example.com October 29, 2013 6:02PM
Updated: December 1, 2013 8:26AM
Joliet Catholic Academy plans to recreate its landmark Victory Light tower.
The Victory Light tower is a familiar sight of the Joliet skyline at the old Joliet Catholic High School building on Broadway Street. It also is still used in decals and other emblems by students and alumni. Joliet Catholic Academy now plans to build a replica of the Victory Light as part of a new Heritage Quad that will pay respect to the school’s history and tradition.
If completed as planned, the new Heritage Quad will become another familiar Joliet sight and be very visible to motorists passing the school campus on Larkin Avenue. Joliet Catholic has just begun a capital campaign to raise the $500,000 needed for Heritage Quad and other improvements at the school in the coming years.
The Heritage Quad project could be completed by summer 2014, said Principal Jeff Budz. In addition to the 35-foot-tall Victory Light replica, the quad would include walls with inscriptions noting the histories of the institution’s three predecessor schools: St. Francis Academy, Joliet Catholic High School and De La Salle High School.
Budz said the project developed out of alumni focus group sessions.
“We heard there needs to be more of an honoring of our tradition and the spirituality of the schools that came before us,” Budz said. “We heard that loud and clear.”
Joliet Catholic Academy was formed in 1990 by the merger of Joliet Catholic High School, an all-boys school at the time, and St. Francis Academy, which was all girls. But the two schools together have 144 years of history. St. Francis was formed in 1869. De La Salle High School was formed in 1918 at the site where the Victory Light stands today. The school became Joliet Catholic High School in 1933.
“We want the Heritage Quad to tell a story of our past,” Budz said.
The quad area also will create more of an atmosphere of a college campus, Budz said.
It also would enhance the appearance of Joliet Catholic Academy as it faces Larkin Avenue, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Joliet.
The Victory Light replica will be on a platform, but not high in the sky like the original structure. However, it will be the center of what could become a gathering place on the campus.
On a practical side, the plan includes new windows for the sections of the school facing Heritage Quad. The existing windows date back to the school’s construction in 1956.
Other long-term plans include:
New windows throughout the school;
Interior renovations to create a new media center and chapel;
And a turf playing surface with bleachers that would be used by the school’s soccer teams and youth football squads that already use a field at Joliet Catholic Academy for games and practices.
The Victory Light replica and Heritage Quad area would be the features most noticed by the community.
John Horn, director of development at Joliet Catholic Academy, said the area would be lit every night, although there would be an especially bright light when school’s teams win games.
The design, he said, also calls for “a spotlight focusing on the cross” that tops the Victory Light tower.
“That’s very important here,” Horn said. “It’s a focus of our Catholicism, our Christianity and our faith.”
Horn noted that even though the Victory Light structure remains on Broadway Street, it has remained a prominent symbol of the school, used in car window decals and in other ways.
“When you see the Victory Light, you know what that represents,” Horn said. “It represents history, tradition and the heart of the school.”
Joliet Catholic Academy has just begun a marketing campaign to raise money for the project. An artist’s depiction of the future Heritage Quad is on the school website. Budz will appear in a video promoting the project that will be played on the Jumbotron at Memorial Stadium during the Joliet Catholic Academy football game Saturday. An article about the project will be in the November issue of the school newsletter mailed to alumni.