officials say the school is entering the 21st century with its education center, scheduled to open in fall 2012.
The multi-story facility, approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission recently, will feature a media center and 240-seat auditorium.
After an opening prayer and thanks to everyone who contributed to the center's progress, it was Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst's turn to say it.
Supporters and alumni gathered under the school's front walkway to listen. Golden shovels had planted in the ground under a tent.
"I always begin any talk before the St. Joe's community by saying thank you," he said. "I am very impressed by what's going on at St. Joe's."
The center "is a testament to what you have achieved on so many levels, especially academically."
He called school Pres. William Fitzgerald "a visionary education leader."
"I want to thank you for expanding. I look forward to coming back with [Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport] Bishop [William] Lori to cut the ribbon," Herbst said.
Fitzgerald said it is "a privilege to be residing at your school in these days."
He credited longtime staff for their dedication to the school. Specifically, he mentioned former principal Dick Bishop.
"He sparked the campus to build a new media center for this school," Fitzgerald said, adding thanks to the school's supporters who sustained it in the tough times of the 1970s.
"It is out of family that good things grow. We see this venture as belonging to all," Fitzgerald added.
The center will also help teachers, according to the president.
Lori addressed the crowd before the ceremonial dig began.
"We have on hand a shovel-ready project. We understand the intrinsic value of the project," he said. "It's curb appeal. A lot depends on what it looks like when you drive up."
The new structure's appearance will show "the excellence that's going on inside," he said.
He concluded, "Let's pray it comes in ahead of schedule and under budget."
Next year also marks the school's 50th anniversary.