Unbreakable spirit: East St. Louis school raises money for shatterproof windows

BY CAROLYN P. SMITH
csmith@bnd.com

EAST ST. LOUIS Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School has raised about half of the $100,000 it needs to replace windows that were shattered by vandals on the eve of the first day of school in August.

The school hopes to replace the windows with high-tech, state-of-the-art windows that are unbreakable and energy-efficient.

Roberta Trost, advancement director for Sister Thea Bowman, said the school, located at 8213 Church Lane, wouldn’t allow their spirits to break along with the windows. And a huge part of the uplift came by the way of many strangers who, once they learned about the vandalism in the media, called to make donations or sent in their checks to help the school, Trost said. Some of the money also came through grants.

Trost said she is hopeful donors will help them raise the other $50,000 they need to get started as well as the money the school needs to replace the windows in the entire school because they are old, missing, single pane glass, a lot of the caulk is gone so air seeps in, and won’t open. Trost said the students there deserve to have the best learning atmosphere possible.

During an event Thursday at the school, Lindsay Matush, executive director of the Brown Sisters Foundation, in St. Louis, Mo., announced that her organization is issuing a $50,000 challenge.

“We believe in the value of this school. We want to see them be successful,” she said.

Trost said the school is looking for new donors or past donors who are willing to increase their donations.
Officials with Winco, a window making business in University City, Mo., the contractor GRB and the representative from the Boston company that makes the polycarbonate that’s in the windows, came to the school grounds to show off the latest technology put into the windows to make them more difficult to break than glass, and more economical and environmentally friendly.

“These windows are thermally efficient. They let more light in,” said John Campbell, president of Winco.

The windows have internal blinds inside of them that open and close. The frame and sash of the window is aluminum and there’s a thermo barrier between it. It resists rain, water and hail. It’s safe and secure, said Kurtis Suellentrop, technical sales manager at Winco.

He took a five-pound sledgehammer, a baseball and a small wooden bat and beat on the window to show those gathered that it would not break. Many in the crowd appeared amazed. Some wanted to know whether they could purchase them for their homes.

Craig Hines, senior project manager with GRP, said, “They won’t have to worry about vandalism.” And they’re energy-efficient, he said.

Tom Niziolek, architectural segment manager for Covestro in Sheffield, Mass., said the brand name for the polycarbon is Makrolon. He said the polycarbon is used “on basketball backboards, snowmobiles and jet-fighter windows. It could be up to 250 times stronger than glass. The cost of the polycarbon depends on the thicknessof the polycarbon. It’s more expensive than glass, but it is virtually unbreakable.”

For more information or to make a donation, call Sister Thea Bowman at 314-913-7623 or visit www.stbcs.com.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503
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