When St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic High School opened in early 2017, it was the first Catholic high school in the area of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Funded by nearly $4 million in parishioner grants and donations, the school was conceived by the Diocese of Charleston to provide students with a rigorous college preparatory education in a safe and nurturing environment, dedicated to character, social responsibility, and faith.
Situated on a 30-ha (75-acre) plot, the 1430-m2 (15,400-sf) facility houses a cafeteria, classrooms, administrative offices, multipurpose art/music room, media center, and science laboratory. An upcoming expansion will add a gymnasium, chapel, and elementary school.
“The ongoing growth of a state-of-the art learning experience that consistently expands with students and amenities is our ultimate goal,” says Ted Hanes, school principal. “This will be performed in a fresh, modern environment offering a challenging educational program. This year began with our freshman, ninth grade class. We intend to add grades 10 through 12 each year beyond this one until we become a fully functional institution offering faith and wide ranging arts, academic, and athletic opportunities for every level.”
William R. Halasz Architects, a local firm with more than 20 years architectural experience in commercial, institutional and religious sectors, was selected to design the school. Construction began in 2015.
“We wanted a look and feel that was well beyond the norm,” says architect Bill Halasz. “This included a clean, crisp contemporary motif that extended from exterior glass and metal to strikingly fresh glow of the restroom.”
To seamlessly blend with each restroom’s modern gray tile and chrome fixtures, designers opted for bright, white bathroom partitions made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The material is durable, easy-to-clean, and highly resistant to scratches, graffiti, and rust. The sleek design offers hidden hardware for clean aesthetics, as well as angled door edges to enhance privacy. The partitions were donated to the school by Bill Meany, owner of Myrtle Beach plumbing company Palmetto Parts.
“If possible, we always lean towards HDPE as opposed to stainless steel,” says Meany. “HDPE wears extremely well. They have color throughout, don’t deteriorate and, most importantly, once they’re installed we tend to never hear from the customer again except when they order more products. They’ve even held up to the abuse in some very difficult situations.”
HDPE is a solid composite, which maintains a property of impermeability that does not allow for the retaining and/or absorption of moisture. This means the partitions resist water damage and, unlike metal, do not rust and harbor bacteria. This material makes the stalls ideal for both power-washing and hose-down cleaning. If cleaned and maintained properly, HDPE partitions reduce long-term costs. Mild stains can be removed with a mild cleaner and water, whereas tougher stains are normally counteracted with mixture of trisodium phosphate and household detergent, diluted with water. If this solution is ineffective, a non-abrasive industrial-strength cleaner can be used without damaging the material.
As a board member for the high school, Meany says he has a duty to do what is best for the institution.
“I wouldn’t provide anything that I didn’t think would last or look great,” says Meany. “You can’t even see the hinges. They’re perfect for the modern look we were trying to achieve—shiny, bright exteriors with nice, clean lines.”