At the school’s recent “Night with the Knights” event, Mount Carmel president Galvin Deleon Guerrero unveiled the “Save the Stage” campaign, which proposes to restore the stage where both the CNMI Constitution and Covenant were signed, in time for the school’s next Theatre Club production later this year.
“I know it is a few months away and we might not get everything done, but I genuinely have faith,” he said. “It is a landmark and it is iconic.”
Guerrero and other school officials informed fellow alumni, students, and parents at the event that “baby steps” have already been taken for its restoration as the school has already held its Christmas Pageant and Catholic School’s Week celebrations there after nearly a 20-year hiatus.
Guerrero said the stage hosts more than just Christmas programs and concerts. Several athletic events have taken place on the same court many of the AlumKnights played on over six decades ago.
He shared the state of the stage’s current condition. “Rust and corrosion has eaten through it and the roof is unusable and dangerous.”
He then presented the audience with a six-phase plan that will lead to the full restoration of the historic landmark. Phase one is the removal and demolition of the roof and walls, which will cost $6,000. Phase two, totaling up to $44,000, will construct the new stage and will include electrical, cement work, roof work, and required permitting. Finishing touches, including painting, tiles, final electrical plastering, railings and steel work, gutters, eves, facias, and an interior work trim, make up phase three and will cost $9,700. Phase 4 involves installing a removable accordion to enclose the seating area in case of inclement weather and will cost $16,000. Phase five, totaling up to $16,000, will focus on insulation for the roof and walls to improve acoustics and provide a comfortable seating area. The final phase is adding air-conditioning for the enclosed area and will cost $50,000.
“It is more than just saving the stage. It is about saving the whole cafeteria. It is about saving an icon about the history of MCS and really the history of the CNMI,” he said.
Guerrero explained how the founders of the school, Fr. Arnold Bendowski and the Mercedarian sisters, realized that the island did not only need a school but also a prime meeting destination, which led to the construction of the MCS stage where hundreds of community and school events were eventually held.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan said his first time on the stage was several years ago where he performed for his elementary Christmas pageant.
“I remember when they built the auditorium with Pale Arnold. My job was to make sure the carpenters had nails. During its construction it was not a project for school, it was a project for the entire Saipan community. You had people coming in from the farms and on Saturdays to help, the entire community played a role,” he said.
Guerrero said the community must keep in mind that the founders of the school had “nothing. They did not have money, they did not have a bank to get a loan at or apply for any grants.”
“Without money they built the stage on sheer faith alone,” he added. “It is the faith in you and the vision our founders had 60 years ago that I believe we can do this.”