WILKES-BARRE – Holy Redeemer High School honored the legacy of its late principal by dedicating a new learning center in her honor Jan. 28, 2024.

In front of dozens of family members, fellow educators and friends, the Doreen Dougherty Digital Learning Commons was blessed and put into use.

Family, friends and staff of Holy Redeemer gather on Jan. 28, 2024, for the dedication of the Doreen Dougherty Digital Learning Commons (Photo/Dan Piazza)

“The day my mother came into Holy Redeemer, she saw the library and immediately had a vision for what it could be,” daughter Shaina Aquilina said. “To see it really come to life today has been something that is truly special and unique.”

Dougherty died last August after an illness. She had been working on transforming the school’s library into an environment that better met student needs at the time of her passing since she became principal of the building in 2019.

“The library was previously just somewhere you would grab a book and go back to class and now it feels like more of a community atmosphere. Every table has room for more than one person,” son Devin Dougherty explained.

The new space is filled with desks, sofas, smart boards, and computers – an environment better suited to help students engage in the digital era.

“The Digital Learning Commons really became a space for the future and a space where students can have that college feel,” principal Cody Opalka stated.

Opalka said Dougherty talked often about space, so naming it after her will forever highlight the lasting impact on those around her.

“Doreen was such a servant leader. She would make time for you even if she had a million things going on,” Opalka added. “Her dedication and passion for education made her the perfect principal for Holy Redeemer.”

For Doreen’s family, the word many repeated at the dedication ceremony was “grateful.”

“I’m so grateful that they put in the time, effort and dedication that it took to make this space everything she wanted it to be and more,” Aquilina said.

“I just want to thank everyone. It has been amazing to see the impact and legacy she has left and will continue to leave on everyone,” Dougherty added.