Villa Madonna campus pavilion and renovation project gets underway in Tampa

Children wearing construction hard hats mingled with community supporters and alumni during the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Villa Madonna School Pavilion and Campus Renovation Project. The children, students of the Villa Madonna School and the Salesian Youth Center, wore the decorative headgear in celebration of a $2.77 million effort now underway in Tampa Heights. 

It’s been 40 years since the track, basketball courts, kickball field, and playground were last renovated. When the last hammer swings in completion within approximately seven months, those areas will be vastly improved, and a 17,000-square-foot pavilion for sports and special events will also stand on campus. Daily, students attending Villa Madonna School as well as neighborhood children at the Salesian Youth Center will benefit.

“During the groundbreaking, the Most Reverend Gregory L. Parkes, the Bishop of St. Petersburg, blessed the ground,” says Cynthia Spano, director of alumni relations. “Sister Joanne Holloman, Provincial Superior of the Salesian Sisters, shared what the project means to the Sisters and the children.”

What it means is more opportunities for children attending the Villa Madonna School and the Salesian Youth Center. Since 1933, the Salesian Sisters of St. John Basco have had an influence in the Tampa area. The property that encompasses the Villa Madonna School is minutes from downtown Tampa and was donated to the Sisters in 1936.

In 1995, the Sisters opened the Salesian Youth Center and began offering an after-school program to Tampa Heights children aged 5-18. The aim was to offer a secure place for neighborhood children to play and receive hot meals and tutoring. The Center focuses on character building, service, and imparting leadership ideals. Now, with the planning of Cooper, Johnson Smith Architects and the manpower of Wichman Construction, the makeover stands to add yet another page to the 85-year history of the organization.  

The effort is funded by the Oliva Family. Mark Oliva, who sits on the Salesian Sisters Partners Circle Board, hopes the project will ultimately shape the lives of both students and community. More than 450 children in Tampa Heights each year are involved in the school and/or Center. And the Salesian Sisters, who aim to educate youth and care for the poor, will now have even more opportunities to achieve their mission. 

To support the Center, visit the Villa Madonna School Pavilion Project or send a check made out to Salesian Sisters, attn: Theresa Anderson, 315 W. Columbus Drive Tampa, FL 33602. For more information about the order of The Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, the largest congregation of religious women in the world, visit Salesian Sisters.

For more information, visit Villa Madonna School.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.