The long, awaited day is nearly here.

After years of fundraising and 18 months of construction, 400 Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep students, faculty and staff will begin classes at their new, progressive high school at 3106 Belvidere Road, thanks to the $18.5 million adaptive reuse project — led by JGMA architects and the McShane Construction Company — that converted a former K-Mart big box store into a state-of-the-art high school.

CRSM students were thrilled to get a glimpse of their new school

The move in day is set for Feb. 13.

“This is a milestone moment for us,” said Preston Kendall. “Almost six years ago we embarked on a bold and daring plan to grow enrollment from 240 to over 400. We have a lot of really talented young people who come from very hard-working families who need help. We believe education is the door to those opportunities.”

The school has outgrown its current leased space at the former St. Joseph Parish complex, a former grade school on a two-acre property comprised of less than 30,000 square feet on the south side of Waukegan.

CRSM is part of a national network of 32 schools dedicated to the Cristo Rey mission. It blends a rigorous academic education with significant work experience through its Corporate Work Study Program. Students spend one day every week, plus an extra day monthly, working for the more than 80 Lake County companies.

CRSM was the first Catholic high school to open in 50 years in Lake County, with 95 students in 2004. Viatorians have served in a variety of roles since its opening and they continue to support the school and its mission, of empowering young people of limited means to become men and women of faith, purpose and service.