About
History

The Melissa Bengston Bessling Garden

The Melissa Bengston Bessling Garden was created as a memorial to Melissa, who was our principal from 2004 to 2014.  Melissa was born in San Jose but grew up here in Modesto.  She attended local schools and after receiving her BA in Journalism from CSU Fresno, she taught English and Math locally and obtained her single subject credential in English. Her first assignment at CCHS was as the Cheerleading Coach in the late 80's.

Ms. Bengtson taught Math and English at Central Catholic High School was the freshman class moderator for four years and Academic Decathlon and assistant coach for ten years. She was involved in the Principals' Spanish Lip Sync Contest since becoming principal in 2004. Ms. Bengston was quoted saying "Central Catholic was an integral part of my life. I loved serving the students, families and community of CCHS".  Unfortunately she lost her life early. It was decided to memorialize her by developing the garden. At the time, WE were developing the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center along with the field house area being remodeled and felt this would be a good memorial since she loved gardens.   

Gerry and Michael Van Nes Statue

Gerry '70 and Michael '71 Van Nes were students at Central Catholic High School in the late 60's and early 70's. Due to a tragic car accident with a train, when Carpenter Road used to cross the train tracks - before the Briggsmore Overpass was built, - they lost their life.  Both of them loved Tennis and were active in the school. In memory of both of them the original Tennis Courts - located where the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center sits today - were dedicated in their memory by our PTG in 1994. 

When WE built the MGHFC, WE put the statue in storage until the center and the new courts were built. In 2016, during the opening of the new facility and courts, Bishop Stephen Blair blessed the new courts in memory of both Gerry and Michael. Donations from the Van Nes family were instrumental in providing for the six courts.

Kristi Phippin Art Gallery

The Kristi Phippin Art Gallery is in the front entrance to Central Catholic. It is dedicated to the memory of Kristi Phippin, one of the school's brightest students, was killed in an automobile accident by a drunken driver. Kristi was seriously considering a career in the visual arts.

Her parents then decided that the money set aside for Kristi's college fund, as well as donations made in her name, should be used for a permanent school project dedicated to her memory. The gallery now houses a permanent collection of alumni and faculty work, while the main hallway is used to exhibit a different professional artist's work every six weeks. 


Info provided by:
Joni Castro-Mendivil, A Memorial for Kristi

For More Information on Memorials Around Our Campus

About Central Catholic

Faithful to our Catholic Tradition, our mission is to witness to the Gospel while building an educational community that inspires the spiritual, academic and social development of young adults.


Central Catholic Students Are:

Academically-Prepared
Spiritually-Developed
Socially-Responsible
Globally-Conscious