Hundreds gathered over the noon hour Thursday, Sept. 23, to dedicate St. Thomas’ new Opus Hall, the K-12 Interdistrict Downtown School, and the city’s newest parking ramp, collectively named the Minneapolis Education Center.

Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, whose son attends the Interdistrict Downtown School, called the dedication a historic day. The project, she said, is a bold collaboration and an exciting contribution to the downtown renaissance.

The dedication’s featured speaker, Dr. James Comer of Yale University, said in his remarks that “I think you are at the forefront of something very important and very useful to the entire country.”

Comer, described by the New York Times as “one of the most celebrated school innovators of his time,” stresses the collaboration of parents, educators and the community to help students achieve success in school and in life.

He called the Minneapolis Education Center a unique and pioneering effort that is “right on target.”

Archbishop Harry Flynn, chairman of the St. Thomas board of trustees, concluded the dedication remarks by observing that “you embarked on this three years ago without even knowing where the buildings would go. You always looked out for the students and ways to create partnerships that provide the very best educational opportunities … all the way from kindergarten to the doctoral level.

“The challenge now is to deliver on the promises … the best education possible every day. I have no doubt that you will succeed, and grandly so,” Flynn said.

Tours of the buildings and a lunch (including peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, chips and little cartons of milk) followed the dedication.