Salesianum School adding a $6 million fitness center


Staff reporter

New Castle developer Anthony N. Fusco, whose family has long been associated with Salesianum School and with philanthropy in the Wilmington area, has committed $2 million toward the school’s latest capital campaign which will be used to help build a new strength and conditioning center.

The gift is among the largest Salesianum has ever received, and the largest of this campaign, said Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father James E. Dalton, who was the president of the school when the pledge was made in the spring. It’s part of the $8 million “Taking Hold: The Campaign for Salesianum,” which gets its name the school’s motto, “Tenui Nec Dimittam,” Latin for “I have taken hold, and I will not let go.”

Of the total, approximately $6 million will be used for the fitness center and an overhaul of the locker rooms in the basement underneath the gymnasium. The balance will go toward financial assistance for students.

The school has raised approximately 90 percent of the total and plans to start work on the addition next March. Construction is expected to be complete by the fall of 2012.

The two-story facility will extend 22 feet from the back of the school and include weight-training and cardiovascular equipment and a larger training room. The current wrestling room will be incorporated into the fitness center, and a new wrestling room will be installed in the basement.

Fusco, 81, is the founder of Fusco Enterprises LLP, a developer primarily of shopping centers.

“I’m able to help in my own way,” he said this past May at his New Castle office. “I feel that I’ve been lucky.”

Fusco was born in Castel Morrone, Italy, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) north of Naples. His parents had been back and forth to the United States before he was born, and they emigrated permanently when Anthony was an infant. In Castel Morrone, there is a statue of S. Maria Della Misericordia that is venerated by the community. A replica of that statue will be in the fitness center.

The Fusco family settled in Little Italy and were parishioners at St. Anthony of Padua Church. Over the years, Fusco has given scholarship money to Salesianum, Padua Academy and Ursuline Academy, and he donated materials and labor to help build Padua.

The scholarships at Salesianum are much appreciated, said Father Dalton, whose tenure ended June 30. “The Fusco Foundation has been giving us scholarships for eight years now. Most recently, we’ve been assigning the scholarship to kids who graduate from Nativity Prep and who go to Salesianum.”

Fusco started the foundation after the death of his wife, Catherine. The donation for the fitness center, however, is from him, not the foundation.

Fusco’s son-in-law, Frank Vassallo III, graduated from Salesianum in 1971, and three grandsons have graduated since 1997. In addition, Fusco wanted to remember John J. Cicchetti, a 1955 alumnus who worked as a project manager for Fusco Enterprises for 38 years. He died in January.

Plans for the addition were announced last October at a dinner for current and former Salesianum football players. One of the speakers was Dan Mulvena, a 1966 graduate and business executive, who talked to the alumni about giving back.

Mulvena has pledged $500,000, as has 1958 alumnus Kenneth Mazik. Mulvena said the center will include a presentation about Salesianum football.

Salesianum, owned and operated by the Oblates, enrolls more than 1,000 boys in grades 9-12.