PASCO, Wash. — A lot has happened to the first alumni of Tri-Cities Prep since they graduated a decade ago.
Theyve gone to college and started their careers. Travis Cameron, for one, now works as an engineer in Richland.
Others have started families or gone out into the world, like Bart Roach, who worked in a mission in Guatemala before attending dental school.
This week, a few of the first class returned to the Tri-Cities only Catholic high school to share some memories, but more importantly to help install a stained-glass window they built 11 years ago.
Its the last little piece hanging on from high school, Cameron said. It just shows (the school is) growing up and (its) coming full circle.
The window, designed and built by students with the expert help of Richland native and master glassman Patrick Clark, has been in storage for years.
Installed this week in the entrance of the unfinished chapel, the window is a symbol of the schools perseverance and excitement for the future, said the alumni, school officials and others.
It just shows you to not give up, said Lisa Campbell, whose six sons have graduated from Prep.
Clark, who is based in New York City and has been a consultant for churches including St. Patricks Cathedral in New York, began working on the window with the 18 graduates of the Class of 2002 as part of a school project in 2000.
That led to a pact that he would build a commemorative stained-glass window for them if they helped.
I had no idea it would ever lead to anything, Clark told the Herald this week.
The 5-foot-diameter window with more than 2,000 pieces of glass and other materials is packed with symbolism.
Clark built the centerpiece, showing the schools crest surrounded by various symbols, including a comet, the Tree of Knowledge, a stalk of wheat and cluster of grapes and the schools mascot, a jaguar.
More than 50 Prep students helped finish the piece, adding a border with the word unity written in different languages, representing their ethnic background, on the glass fragments.
School officials said the piece originally hung in the schools entryway in a circular window, but was moved after a year because it was too heavy. It was packed in a crate and has been in storage ever since.
It wasnt until the schools boosters began pushing to build a chapel that if found a permanent home.
Campbell said building the chapel is the fulfillment of a vision shes had since he school began.
She hoped to the chapel would be built within several years of the addition of the classrooms and gymnasium.
Im impatient, she admitted.
But it was not meant to be. After all the initial construction, the school needed to get its operating expenses in order. There was even a time about eight years ago, when Campbells son Brian was a senior, when the school was threatened with closure because of finances.
Roach said there were other struggles of attending a small and new private high school. He and other students gave up a lot of experiences typical for many high school students, such as athletics and other activities. He had to miss out on studying abroad.
My mother finally told me I couldnt go because they needed me to play basketball, he said.
But its all worth it now. The school now has 181 students in grades 9-12 and Principal Arlene Jones expects enrollment to be more than 200 next year. The chapel is part of a larger project that involves a multipurpose room with a movable wall, allowing a celebration of the Mass for hundreds.
Cameron, Roach, Clark and a few others helped install the window in the chapels entryway earlier this week. It will catch the rays of the afternoon and evening sun, casting them into the chapel when the doors are opened.
Its not clear when the project will be finished. Campbell and other boosters raised an initial $800,000 to get the project started, but now the school is seeking sponsors for the 15 other stained glass windows thatll adorn the chapel, illustrating scenes from the Bible and saints.
To be honest, with just the framing up, Im happy, Campbell said.
Clark will build the windows and he said donors have already paid for most of them. Many families and groups have bought them in honor of a saint or in memory of a loved one.
Clark said he could be back next year with the first batch.
But for now, the lone window, designed years ago, is the only one casting light into the sacred space. And even though installed at night, people couldnt help but marvel at its colors and brilliance as light from a halogen lamp shined through it.
Itll be neat for me to send my children there and for them to look up and see it, Cameron said.