Planetarium Renovations in Planning Stage

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Planetarium Renovations in Planning Stage

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Cotter is in the process of planning to renovate the planetarium that can be seen on the roof of the Roger Bacon building.

The planetarium was initially  built in 1960 as a part of St. Theresa’s campus. Sr. Margaret Pirkl, a member of the science department faculty, used it as an aid with her classes, and ran programs for the community and families at special times.

Unfortunately, the planetarium ended up shutting down in 1980, after not meeting safety codes when St. Theresa’s closed.

The planetarium sat idly at the top of the Roger Bacon building for 35 years. After all of the renovations to Roger Bacon in the past couple years, talk started to come up about what might be done with the planetarium.

Mrs. Drazkowski, Cotter’s junior high science teacher, had the renovation in the back of her mind for many years, “I have been thinking about [the renovation] since I started here 7 years ago. Thankfully, this summer we received help with grant writing to start the process.”

The renovations previously had never made the top of the list because of its high cost. After the renovation two years ago which included asbestos removal, new sprinkler systems, new windows, plumbing, electrical, new bathrooms, and modernizing the elevator, talk has started to renew more of Roger Bacon.

“Now that all of these essential jobs have been accomplished, it’s possible to think about raising more money to complete another part of Roger Bacon to its original glory,” Mrs. Frisby, high school astronomy teacher, stated.

The renovation will cost about $500,000, and will include replacing the original projection system with a new state of the art computerized system, and will have to meet fire codes by adding a second exit and make the room handicap accessible.

“Once the money is raised, hopefully all can be completed within a few years,” Frisby continued.

If the renovation is completed, the planetarium will be a state of the art space where students can learn about our solar system and beyond. Once the planetarium is usable again, it will be used for a wide range of activities activities with the local universities, community groups and perhaps other area schools..

“Since I introduced the astronomy elective here at Cotter, I have always taken students to the planetarium at Mayo HS in Rochester. There is a wonderful set-up and is able to use real time data of the universe. I would be able to use our own for this class. Also, WSU Astronomy classes would have access to it and programs could be offered and open to the community.”

With the astronomy elective growing in student numbers, it would be a great addition to the class.  “Astronomy is one of my passions, I’m working on the committee to gather outside interest, locate funding, and put together specific information about how other successful planetariums are run and what technology they use,” said Frisby.

All effort is being put towards this to in hopes of once again having a functioning planetarium on the Cotter campus.