Presented here are reports of current successful Catholic high schools throughout the country. All press items have been used by permission.

Free Lance-Star, The (Fredericksburg, VA)

December 8, 2007

Catholic high school to open in Dumfries

Catholic Diocese of Arlington welcomes fourth Catholic high school, set to open in Dumfries next fall

Next fall, 475 students will call Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School their daytime home away from home.

Construction of the $60 million-dollar high school in the Dumfries area by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington is ahead of schedule, said its new principal, Sister Mary Jordan Hoover.

The school on the Cherry Hill peninsula in southern Prince William County comes after a two-decade period without a new Catholic high school in Northern Virginia. It will serve a region with some of the fastest-growing localities in the state.

"The geography is appealing to many parents because the school is a lot closer to Prince William, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg than the other schools, which are in Arlington and Fairfax," Hoover said.

Pope John Paul High will open in September 2008 for incoming freshmen and sophomores, adding an additional grade each year for a total of 1,000 students in 2011. Tuition for Catholic students will be $8,700 and $12,833 for non-Catholics.

At a recent open house, Hoover said she has received a lot of positive feedback about the curriculum.

Students will be required to take bioethics, a first for a U.S. Catholic high school. The principal said teachers will tackle issues including stem cell research and euthanasia, and their place within the Catholic faith.

"Science has made so many advances in the last 10 to 20 years, and the average Catholic needs a little help figuring out what we should do," she said. "Bioethics will provide them with philosophy and science to help students think clearly."

Incoming students also will have the opportunity to create clubs tailored to their interests and participate in a range of athletics.

"I've talked to students who are interested in being a part of a team that's being built," Hoover said. "Football players are excited because they get to play both sides since right now it will just be JV.

"Parents are also excited because they're looking for a spiritual education and a school that will educate the whole person," she said.

While the Arlington Diocese has yet to build a Catholic high school in the immediate Fredericksburg area, St. Michael the Arch-angel provides a closer alternative.

Principal Kelli Koba said the Catholic high school on Plank Road in Spotsylvania County is not affiliated with the diocese, but it is in the process of getting canonical approval.

"It's usually a five-year process, and we're in our second year," she said. "We opened as an independent school but we want to be in submission to the magisterium of the Catholic Church and in cooperation with the bishop's office. We are truly Catholic."

Regardless of St. Michael's technical status, Koba isn't too concerned about enrollment once Pope John Paul the Great High School opens in the fall.

"Dumfries is still a fair distance," she said. "It may make a little difference, but it's hard to predict. We're a Catholic high school that's close to home, and that's going to be our selling point. I see it as an opportunity for Catholic parents in the area to know they have several choices."

St. Michael's, which holds classes in the Strayer University building on State Route 3, has an enrollment of 27 this year. Tuition is $6,000.

Area residents seeking a Catholic secondary education had another alternative until this fall.

Mariamante Academy in Fredericksburg temporarily closed because of financial issues. It had 34 students.

Copyright, 2007, The Free Lance-Star

San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA)

September 3, 2007

A new school of faith
Shadow of the diocese's bankruptcy doesn't dampen spirits at Mater Dei CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL OPENS ITS DOORS

Author: Chris Moran; STAFF WRITER

At every turn, there's something in South County's new Catholic high school that wasn't in the old: echoes from a theater's lobby, gleaming whiteboards to catch images from ceiling projectors, the cool caress of air conditioning.

Mater Dei Catholic High School, which opens tomorrow, also has a bigger and better version of almost everything the old campus had. There's a chapel that seats 200, a bowl-style football stadium and a dozen science labs.

As recently as five months ago, it was unclear whether Mater Dei would open. The Catholic Diocese of San Diego built the $80 million campus while facing about 150 lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children by priests.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in February after four years of unsuccessful settlement talks. A ruling by a federal bankruptcy judge in April allowed the diocese to borrow $14 million to finish Mater Dei.

Tomorrow, the emphasis shifts from courtroom to classroom when 750 students show up for the first day of school. Their arrival completes a pilgrimage from a shabby campus in the south San Diego neighborhood of Egger Highlands to the splendor of 52 acres in Otay Ranch.

They leave behind 47 years of history at Marian Catholic High School, but they also leave behind leaky roofs, cramped classrooms, a quagmire of a football field and walls that would crumble, as one administrator joked, if the termites stopped holding hands.

The bankruptcy has followed them. On Thursday, the judge is scheduled to rule on whether to throw out the bankruptcy. The diocese has offered to settle the lawsuits for $95 million.

Mater Dei President Tom Beecher called any speculation that the school could be sold to pay victims "far-fetched" and said it is his understanding that the plaintiffs don't want diocese schools closed. Beecher said he considered the judge's ruling in April the point of no return.

"When I lose sleep, it's about what light switch isn't working. It's not about whether we're going to lose the asset," Beecher said.

Students checking in for orientation last week knew about the bankruptcy but said they figure their school is in the clear now that it is built and open.

"Where else are we going to go? Our other school is going to be sold, too," sophomore Vanessa Vargas, 15, said after she had stashed a pile of textbooks in her new locker.

The diocese expects to sell the Marian property as part of its bankruptcy plan.

What was more on students' minds was the size of the campus. It's 2 1/2 times bigger than Marian's footprint. Students said they'll have to show up a tad earlier to avoid tardies, and there won't be as much dawdling between classes, which students have to find in one of 14 unnumbered buildings that have names such as LaSalle, Loyola, Siena and Seton halls.

They raved about the football stadium and the gym. One student joyfully shouted, "I love Jesus!"

The snack bar is more expensive, and students can't pay in pesos like they did at Marian, but the selection is wider.

There's a performing arts center and a music room, which Marian did not have, and there are nine more science labs than at Marian.

As history teacher Michael Hall put it, Marian was "state-of-the-art 1982." Mater Dei's storage space, built-in projectors, wiring for the Internet and larger rooms are big advances over the old campus.

Mater Dei plans to emphasize science, with an academy program for advanced students and a new environmental science Advanced Placement class. The Scripps Research Institute, the University of California San Diego and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will send mentors to Mater Dei and offer internships to students.

Tuition is $9,962 a year; about one-quarter of Mater Dei students receive financial aid. Beecher said that because the school supports itself through tuition and fundraising, it's unlikely that the diocese bankruptcy would affect tuition or the school's ability to offer financial aid.

It's possible that the public relations fallout from the legal controversies has affected enrollment at a campus built for 2,200 students, Beecher said. But logistics are a bigger factor, he said. Mater Dei is still getting the word out that the school is ready, and the completion of the South Bay Expressway later this year is expected to deliver new East County students who currently would face a discouraging commute.

The bankruptcy might come up in current-events discussions, but it won't affect the school's day-to-day operations, teachers say.

"For me it's a matter of faith," English teacher Danielle Delahunty said. "There's a great spirit here that this is supposed to happen. This is God's will."

Library researcher Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.


A new, 52-acre Catholic high school in the Otay Ranch area of Chula Vista opens tomorrow.

The Diocese of San Diego built the school at a cost of $80 million.

The campus replaces Marian Catholic High School in the south San Diego neighborhood of Egger Highlands. Marian closed in June after 47 years.

The projected enrollment for 2007-08 is 750. Mater Dei eventually plans to expand to 2,200 students.

Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)

December 8, 2001

Author: John Welbes, Pioneer Press

The idea of a new Catholic high school in Dakota County, which has bounced around for years, is getting serious again with support from people in area parishes.

After visiting seven Catholic parishes in the southern suburbs to gauge parents' interest in a high school, the South Metro Catholic High School Coalition identified 500 families with more than 1,000 kids who would like that option. The most viable site, says Bob Zauner, a lead organizer of the coalition, is near All Saints Catholic Church in Lakeville. The Donnelly family of Farmington owns the land and has previously worked out land deals with All Saints for expansion.

The high school group is "real serious,'' said Bob Donnelly, whose family farms about 120 acres near All Saints. The high school "would be a good thing. We prefer that to houses,'' he said.

Dakota County's population -- now near 360,000 -- increased by 81,000 in the past decade and led to rapid enrollment growth in both public and private schools. "We're plowing the ground right now with the (coalition),'' said Tom McCarver, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. "They've been working hard.''

The Catholic high schools that students from northern Dakota County usually choose from all have waiting lists. That includes Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Thomas Academy, Visitation Convent School and Holy Angels Academy.

"We desperately need more space out that way,'' McCarver said. Enrollment at the Catholic grade schools that feed those high schools also is growing. That includes the booming St. John the Baptist elementary in Savage, just across the Scott County line from Burnsville, with 800 children in grades K-8. Faithful Shepherd, an elementary school in Eagan that opened last year, is also full and adding an eighth grade next year.

The archdiocese will conduct a feasibility study this spring to get more details on the demand for a high school, McCarver said.

"I would say it will take us a while before we really firm up the decision. The decision itself is up to the Archbishop (Harry Flynn),'' he said.

The grades 9-12 co-educational high school the coalition envisions comes with a price tag of about $30 million, Zauner said.

The coalition hasn't started fund raising, he said, so as to not compete with the Archdiocese's Growing in Faith fund-raising effort, which is also responding to the metro area's population growth.

Still, Zauner said, they'd ideally like to open a high school in the fall of 2004. The group is assembling a board of directors to eventually help with fund raising. Negotiations have started on the land near All Saints Catholic Church, which is not involved in the high school project.

The Lakeville public school district, meanwhile, is trying to get taxpayer support to build a second high school and ease a space crunch. Lakeville voters rejected a high school bond referendum in November.

A new Catholic high school would probably pull in some Lakeville students, said Gary Amoroso, the Lakeville district's superintendent. "But I don't believe that changes the need that exists in the Lakeville public schools,'' he said. The district currently has 9,800 students and expects to top 10,700 within three years.

Copyright (c) 2001 St. Paul Pioneer Press

Herald News, The (Joliet, IL)

April 11, 2003

Saving Providence: Retired auxiliary bishop credited with transforming local Catholic high school
Author: Denise M. Baran-Unland

When Providence Catholic High School honors retired auxiliary bishop Roger L. Kaffer on Saturday, Kaffer hopes that the true story about how Providence was really saved comes to the fore.

Without the dedication of the parents and students in the late 1960s, especially the principal at the time, Brother Dan McMullan and the then-president of the Mother's Club, Dorothy Nugent, it would not have happened, Kaffer said.

"Dan had a `Save Our Schools' campaign, which even got donations from other countries," Kaffer recalled.

"I know that the diocesan board of education almost unanimously recommended three times to Bishop (Romeo) Blanchette to close it," Kaffer said. "But the board of diocesan consultants recommended that it not be closed so kids on the East Side (of Joliet) could receive Catholic education."

Kaffer remembers clearly that day in 1968 when the Rev. Dan Ryan, the chancellor at the diocese at the time, read the fateful four- page letter from Blanchette (now deceased) that Providence would remain open.

The gym floors at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville, where founding director Kaffer was rector at the time, were so packed that students were asked to sit on the floor so their parents could have the bleachers. "They thought it was the death knoll," he said.

However, when anyone who has ever been involved with Providence starts talking about how the school was saved, they invariably point to Kaffer and his efforts, efforts that are still bearing fruit.

"Bishop Kaffer is a great man," said the Rev. Richard McGrath, president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox. "He devoted his time and energy to building a Catholic community at this high school. He is a doer, not a talker."

"Since he just retired from the Joliet Diocese, having reached his 75th birthday (the mandatory retirement age), we thought this was an appropriate time to honor him for his service to the church and to Providence."

A weighty decision

By the time he was in the sixth grade, Kaffer definitely knew he wanted to be a priest.

"Then I discovered girls in the seventh grade, and I forgot all about it until I graduated from high school," he said with a chuckle.

"Actually, I went to seminary not to become a priest, but to give it a try. I was attracted to the priesthood and marriage. I liked kids, and I think I could have been a good husband and father.

"But you have to decide what you want to do in life and evaluate the pros and cons. If you're going to be a doctor, then you probably can't go out for athletics in college and do a lot of the social things.

"I wanted to be a parish priest because I wanted to help people and do all the things that a parish priest does. I wanted to listen to people's problems and marry and bury them. I knew that I couldn't live with myself if I didn't give seminary a try. I am very happy with the choice I made, and I have never regretted it."

Providence principal

Kaffer, who was ordained a priest on May 1, 1954, never wanted to be in any kind of administrative position and even wrote to Blanchette and told him so. But the Christian Brothers, Kaffer said, who owned and operated Providence, suddenly found themselves in the position of not having anyone to send there to serve as principal.

"The brothers said to Bishop Blanchette, `We don't have a principal,' and he said, `I will send a principal.'"

Kaffer was still totally convinced that he would soon have a parish of his own and was very much surprised when he learned the truth.

"I wasn't asked, and it wouldn't have made any difference anyway," said Kaffer. "When you're a member of the team, you play where the coach needs you. If you want to make God laugh, just tell him what your plans are. But it was also very clear to me that if this was God's will, then that was OK.

"But at the time, I felt that I had just jumped on a train that was speeding forward."

Making changes

When Kaffer arrived at Providence, he found a school that was "in very poor shape." Enrollment was a mere 490 students; the school then had an open-campus policy and a jukebox in the cafeteria. Kaffer's goal was to tighten both academics and discipline, as well as create a very Catholic atmosphere within the school.

Almost immediately, he closed the campus and removed the jukebox.

"I was very unpopular," he said. "The first year that I was there the senior boys ordinarily would not return my greeting. The second year they would speak to me, and by the third year they started talking to me. But I would rather that 16-year- olds respect me than like me."

Also at the time, religion was treated as a minor class that did not affect a student's grade point average. No more three days a week treatment for Kaffer. He wanted his students to take religion classes five days a week and have it count academically in the same way as English or chemistry.

He was rather particular about the quality of his classes and the instructors teaching them and deeply resented the rumors that students at Providence received an inferior education.

But, Kaffer said, Dr. John Lynch (now deceased), dean of the education department at DePaul University, came down to Providence one night, reviewed everything Kaffer was doing and dispelled Kaffer's fears.

Kaffer also began celebrating daily Mass in the school's chapel and was thrilled if three people showed up. It did not take long before attendance reached 45 participants each morning. His devotion to the rosary and to the Sacred Heart was obvious. On his calling card were the words, "What on earth are you doing for heaven's sake?"

"I think," Kaffer said, "that I turned Providence into a parish, and I think it's the most important thing I did for the school. I heard confessions every day for 15 years, and I visited families. This was not the ordinary job of an administrator."

Believing that parents are the student's first and most important teacher and uniting with the parents to provide for their child's education, Kaffer always made it a point to annually visit each home of every student. He'd visit five to eight families a night, showing up unannounced, and perhaps staying only 15 minutes.

"The kids couldn't play the school against the parents because I'd already had been there," Kaffer again chuckled..

Under Kaffer's leadership, Providence saw the construction of an expanded wrestling room, six classrooms as part of the theology wing, the Sacred Heart gym, locker facilities, three additional classrooms, renovation of the chapel, renovation of the football stadium with the construction of an all-weather track, the Bishop Blanchette library and the Cooper Computer Center.

While these projects cost well over $2.5 million to construct, they were actually built for less than half that amount, with Kaffer at the helm of all fund-raising efforts.

But then, Kaffer could also be seen in the winters shoveling snow from the rooftops, or climbing ladders and running a backhoe when the situation called for it.

Auxiliary bishop

When Kaffer decided to leave Providence in 1985, after serving the school for 15 years, he still nursed a small, secret hope that a parish of his own might be right around the corner.

"Bishop (Joseph) Imesch called me one day and said, `Roger, sometime when you're going by, would you stop in?' `Oh jeepers,'" an alarmed Kaffer thought, "`it's probably a problem with one of the students.'"

He immediately went over to the chancery office, all the while rehearsing what he was going to say to Imesch.

Instead, Kaffer heard the words, "The Holy Father wants you to be the auxiliary bishop of Joliet."

"I thought I would die," was his initial reaction, which was quickly followed by, "I'll give it my best shot."

Always to be in the will of God, that was Kaffer's deepest desire. "That's where you're happiest, really," he said.

On June 26, 1985, Kaffer was ordained auxiliary bishop of Joliet, as well as vicar general. Later that year, he was also installed as vicar for priests.

Kaffer also holds two master's degrees, one from St. Mary of the Lake seminary and another from DePaul University, two licetorates, one in sacred theology and another in canon law, as well as a doctorate in ministry.

But in the minds and hearts of those parents, students and faculty who knew and loved him at Providence, Kaffer was never an unapproachable diocesan administrator, but a man who walked the Christian walk, modeling the faith he wanted others to know.

"He is, first and foremost, a priest," said Ken Raymond, chairman of the social science department at Providence. "Whatever title you will give him, he will always, in my heart, be a priest. Every summer he had a barbecue for people from the past at Providence. He never loses touch. He's a fine man."

Copyright (c) 2003 The Herald News (Joliet, IL)

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

October 14, 2003


Twelve years ago, Norfolk Catholic High School faced dwindling enrollment, low teacher morale and a dilapidated building.

But by following the movement of young Catholic families to Virginia Beach - and with the help of an influential church leader - the school reinvented itself.

A new technology wing. Fifteen additional acres for athletic fields. One hundred fifty more students. A fine arts wing. And now, a new name to honor the man who many say was instrumental in re-establishing the school.

This afternoon, Catholic High School will be renamed Bishop Sullivan High for the retired bishop from the Diocese of Richmond who lent financial support and leadership to the school through rocky times. A new fine arts center will also be dedicated. School officials say because of Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, Catholic education in South Hampton Roads will flourish for years to come.

``Bishop Sullivan has been the patron to the school,'' said Paul K. Campsen, an alumnus and chairman of the school's board of directors. ``It's on solid financial footing. The enrollment is solid. I think the school is stable now forever.''

In 1993, with the blessing of Sullivan, Norfolk Catholic moved from an aging Granby Street building to a brand new $3.5 million building on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach. Since then, enrollment has jumped almost 50 percent to nearly 500 students.

Eighty percent of the school's students matriculate from Catholic elementary schools and about 98 percent of the school's seniors go on to college, according to the Rev. Msgr. William L. Pitt, the school's principal.

Last year, its senior class earned $3 million in scholarships, Pitt said.

``I always knew if we could get here, it would fly,'' Pitt said. ``I didn't know it would fly so fast.''

After Pitt suggested a $2 million renovation for a fine arts wing, Sullivan pledged $1 million in matching funds from the diocese in 2002.

The 14,000-square-foot addition, which will be dedicated today and called the Barry Robinson Theater-Fine Arts Center, includes a 1 1/2-story gallery for student art and a 280-seat theater with new sound and light systems. Previously, school plays were held on platforms in the cafeteria.

But the showpiece of the building are panes of stained glass that depict different aspects of the fine arts and line the center's rounded wall.

Sullivan, who retired last month, was humble about the school carrying his name.

``I am very honored and privileged,'' he said in a phone interview. Catholic education ``is one of the primary missions of the church.''

The new name touches off a flurry of other changes. Everything from welcome mats to business cards to posters promoting art shows will soon carry the school's new moniker. The building itself and school calendars already carry the Bishop Sullivan name.

``A lot of kids are excited,'' said senior John Paul Thomas. ``We'll be the first class at Bishop Sullivan.''

And for senior Terese Flores, the new name will solve a pesky identity issue.

``When people ask you what high school do you go to, people usually say, `What Catholic high school?','' she said.

Now there will be a more definitive answer.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City)

July 27, 1997

Welcome to Xavier
Work under way on new Catholic high school

Author: Becky Stover; Gazette staff writer

A new Catholic high school with modern classrooms, expanded fine arts facilities and spacious athletic fields should boost business in Cedar Rapids.

Xavier High School, projected to open in fall 1998, is being built on land near 42nd Street and Ushers Ferry Road NE. The school will replace Regis and LaSalle high schools.

Construction is on schedule. Grading is completed and last week workers began pouring concrete for the foundation. The steel frame will go up and masonry work will be completed by late fall, said the school's architect, Jim Novak of Novak Design Group.

The $14.5 million facility is being financed through tax-exempt bonds and the interest they generate. The Regis-LaSalle Foundation has raised $4.6 million of the $6.175 million needed to finance the project.

Regis-LaSalle Chief Administrator Jeff Henderson said the project has received outstanding support from businesses.

"It's been very easy to get people to support this project," he said. "By having a single Catholic high school, they just think it's going to add another element to recruiting people and getting them to stay in the community."

"I think it is absolutely good for business," said Loren Coppock, president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. "Companies can be pretty choosy about where they decide to locate. I think it's just one more feather for this community's cap."

The main goal of the new school is to increase class offerings and technology available to students, Henderson said. By consolidating, school officials can make better use of personnel and financial resources. The merger will save about $300,000 annually in operational costs.

The school, designed for a maximum of 880 students, will total 146,500 square feet. Cedar Rapids' three traditional public high schools range in size from 249,898 to 271,292 square feet and house between 1,400 and 1,550 students. This fall, about 490 students will attend Regis, 225 LaSalle.

The two-story building will be air-conditioned with an elevator and a 400-car parking lot.

"It is without a question going to raise the quality of private secondary education to another level," Coppock said. "I just think as a result of it you'll probably see the public schools get better too." The whole plan is driven by a desire to improve curriculum offerings. Teachers have been involved in the planning from the beginning, Henderson said.

Last year, Regis and LaSalle offered a total of 107 courses, including some at just one site. A combined school will be able to offer 151 different courses.

The building was designed based on a technology plan that includes putting at least one computer in every classroom and equipping the library with a multimedia lab.

A strong religious theme is another component of the building. An entrance with two crosses will welcome visitors to Xavier High School when it opens.

In addition to the chapel, there will be five theology rooms and a campus minister's office. The stations of the cross will be displayed in the outside courtyard.

"We wanted a building everyone in the metro area would be very proud of," Henderson said. "When people drive by, they'll know it's an excellent Catholic high school."

The Regis-LaSalle board also considered remodeling or expanding LaSalle or Regis.

The board found overwhelming support for a new building after surveying approximately 400 adults and 800 students.

Then, a task force, appointed by the board, explored potential locations for a new high school.

FYI A committee of coaches, teachers, students and parents selected Saints as Xavier's nickname, beating out names such as Navigators, Explorers and Express. Colors will be navy blue and silver. St. Francis Xavier was a Jesuit missionary in the 16th century.

Copyright (c) 1997, 2000 Cedar Rapids Gazette

San Antonio Express-News

April 23, 2003

A celebration of faith

Central Catholic High School is marking its 150th birthday.
Author: Edmundo Conchas

Central Catholic High School is having a birthday.

The all-boys school, located at 1403 N. St. Mary's St., will celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary May 3 with a birthday party that will include an open house, the blessing of the new St. Joseph statue, and student art and exhibits. There also will be historic memorabilia as well as old yearbooks on display.

School officials said the event would be a celebration of 150 years of service to San Antonio's young men.

"This gives us a look at 150 years of good work," said W. Patrick Cunningham, principal and 1964 graduate of the school.

The school was started in 1852 by the Society of Mary, a branch of the French Marianists. Named St. Mary's Institute, the building, located at 112 College St., consisted of two classrooms and living quarters for faculty and boarders. As the years passed, overcrowding issues caused the school to branch into several sites based on grade level.

In 1893, grades five through 14 and all boarders were moved to St. Louis College in Woodlawn Hills. In 1923, only collegiate-level classes remained at the campus, and four years later the name was changed to St. Mary's University.

Also in 1923, the downtown campus, then known as St. Mary's Academy, served students in grades one through five (elementary) and grades six through 11 (high school). But it again had overcrowding, forcing school officials to look for another campus.

That new campus was opened in 1932 and was named Central Catholic High School. It has remained at that location ever since.

In 1932, the school offered classes for grades six through 12. Grade 12 was added sometime between 1923 and 1932, according to Terrie Carter, communications coordinator at Central Catholic. In 1955, grades six through eight were discontinued due to overcrowding in the higher grades.

"I would say our connection with the Society of Mary is why we have 150 years to celebrate," Cunningham said. "When you have a religious order that has a religious philosophy like the Marianists and has given and passed it to generation after generation, it's bound to have an effectual continuity."

"Central Catholic has been literally at the heart of San Antonio for 150 years and has never wavered," said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, who graduated from Central Catholic in 1964.

Cunningham said the birthday observance will be a celebration of both tradition and faith.

"It gives us a chance to recognize some of the things that we've done as well as recognize some of the things that have not been emphasized in the past few years," he said.

For example, Cunningham said, one of their goals is to enhance the celebration of Catholic beliefs.

"We want them to have a recurring experience of faith," he said.

"We want to go on creating and maintaining a safe environment for our students to share and practice their faith.

"We're bringing it back in a new form that's inviting to both the kids and the adults. We're taking these things that are good and bringing them up to the level of greatness."

Sophomore Brandon Sutton said his experiences at Central Catholic have helped him grow as a person and as a student.

"The past of Central Catholic has affected me," he said. "It's brought leadership traits out, and that makes you feel great."

Both of Sutton's older brothers also attended the school.

Cunningham said about half of Central Catholic's students have some kind of family connection to the school.

"We have some fourth-and fifth-generation students," he said. "Adults bring their kids here. They keep coming back here even though they have to drive by 20 high schools to get here."

Edward Ybarra, assistant principal and also a 1983 Central Catholic graduate, said that the school is one of the things that stands for tradition in the Alamo City.

"I think that Central Catholic serves as a pillar to the success of our city," he said. "It also seems that one of these pillars is family. You can see the number of families that have come through here, and these act as a magnet. You walk through those doors and you feel the family atmosphere."

Cunningham attributes the school's 93 percent retention rate among freshmen to the tradition and sense of family the school creates among its classes.

"(For) about a third of our incoming freshmen ... (Central Catholic) is not their first choice," he said. "They know that it's challenging. But they become passionately dedicated to the school and to each other. By the time they graduate, they feel that brotherhood."

State District Court Judge and Central Catholic alumnus John Specia said several members of his family have attended Central Catholic, including his father, uncle, brothers and his sons. He said it's a rich tradition that the school has provided for San Antonio's young men, and there is indeed a sense of brotherhood.

"There's a very special relationship between graduates of Central Catholic," he said.

"Central Catholic has provided an extremely high quality level of education for 150 years, and we share a commitment. It's people that are concerned with the community ... a tradition of service."

"The one thing in a city you can never plan for is what (young boys) are going to amount to," Cisneros said.

"Central Catholic must be doing something right."

Copyright 2003 San Antonio Express-News

Indianapolis Star, The (IN)

August 17, 2004

New Catholic high school opens
Theodore Guerin school in Hamilton County is state's 1st new Catholic high in past 30 years.


Correction: The original published version of this story was unclear in failing to mention the opening of Seton Catholic High School in Richmond in 2002. Seton opened in an existing school building that was renovated. Guerin is the state's first new Catholic high school to be built in 30 years. See the published corrections and clarifications of 8-18-2004.

Article Text:

Rapid growth in Hamilton County has led to yet another first: the state's first new Catholic high school built in 30 years.

Blessed Theodore Guerin High School opened Monday, a $22 million project sparked by the surge of Catholic families moving to Hamilton County and their demand for parochial education.

"It's a longtime dream that's been in the works for a good five years," said Bishop William L. Higi of the Diocese of Lafayette. "It's a wonderful thing to have the doors open."

Besides Guerin, which welcomed 100 students Monday, the diocese has opened three elementary schools since 1996 in Hamilton County.

The start of classes at Guerin is the latest sign of how growth has become the county's hallmark. Projects from the massive Central Park development to shopping centers like Clay Terrace along 146th street and Pulte's Noble West subdivision on Hazel Dell Road are transforming the county.

While several other Catholic high schools operate in northern Marion County, administrators on those campuses readily admit they don't have room for all the children who seek admittance.

"The reality is that the community was in need of another Catholic high school," said Duane Emery, vice president for enrollment management and admissions at Cathedral High School, located in Lawrence Township.

"If you look at the number of Catholic students applying to Cathedral, Brebeuf . . . there were families looking for Catholic education who were finding it increasingly difficult to get.

"This is a godsend for those families in that area, and that area just continues to grow."

The area covered by the Diocese of Lafayette typically has a Catholic population around 8 percent, Higi said, but Hamilton County sees a rate of 25 to 30 percent.

What's more, he said, the families are moving from communities where Catholic schools were always a choice.

"The initiative for this school really did come from the laity," Higi said. "We're trying to respond to that as fast as we can."

According to diocesan statistics, the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Lafayette has grown from 84,000 in 1994 to 96,000 in 2003.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis the Catholic population has also grown, from 215,000 in 1994 to 234,000 in 2004.

At Cathedral, Emery said the school had 600 applications for this year's incoming freshmen class of just more than 300 students. He said that makes the opening of Guerin a welcome addition.

"The common question is 'Are you worried?' and really, we say no," Emery said. "It presents a different challenge, but in the long run, it is good for families."

At Guerin, Principal Keith Marsh was thrilled with the response from families and young people who were willing to make the school their choice.

"We've established something pretty special in this community," Marsh said as he waited for students to come to lunch.

Each day one of the young people will be responsible for offering a prayer before the meal. That, along with the chapel, the 15-foot metal cross atop the roof, and a large portrait of the school's namesake that greets people entering the building are obvious reminders of the school's Roman Catholic backing.

"A lot of people had doubts, because it was a big uncertainty," Marsh said. "But everybody, even those who had questions, can today see it as a success."

Parents of the first enrollees, like Deb Grisham, whose 14-year-old daughter Morgan is a Guerin freshman, described the school's opening not in terms of success or failure, but in terms of the workings of a higher power.

"We all feel very blessed to be here."

Sister Theodore

Anne-Therese Guerin, born in France in 1798, took the name Sister Theodore when she became a nun in her 20s. In 1840, she led five nuns to Indiana and opened a girls academy, now St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. She started two orphanages in Vincennes and opened pharmacies that gave medicine to the poor. She died in 1856 and has been beatified, the final step before sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Catholic school enrollment

Hamilton County's first Catholic high school opened Monday and is expected to ease some of the admissions squeeze at other parochial schools.

Privately owned schools

Cathedral High School 1,148

Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School 783

Interparochial schools

Roncalli High School 951

Bishop Chatard High School 821

Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School 391

Cardinal Ritter High School 388

Theodore Guerin School* 100

*Ninth and 10th grade only. They will be expanding in the future.

Copyright (c) The Indianapolis Star

Boston Globe, The (MA)

February 13, 2003


Author: Katheleen Conti

LAWRENCE - Sean Burkardt of North Andover said the thought of going to school in urban Lawrence was intimidating at first.

Noelia Bare has lived in Lawrence all her life, but said she was afraid before coming to a private Roman Catholic high school.

The two teens, who are students at Central Catholic High School, said their worries stemmed from a concern that they would not be welcomed by the local community or the student body because of their race. Burkardt, who is white, and Bare, who is Latina, now say their concerns about race were unfounded, but their experience points out the difference between often monolithic public schools and more diverse student bodies in private schools. And at Central Catholic, students and officials say they find value in the diversity.

Burkardt, a 17-year-old senior, said one of the reasons he chose to attend Central was because of the different ethnicities he would encounter.

"Different people, different kinds of ethnicities, it's the best way to learn. I wanted to see what the real world looked like," said Burkardt, who is also the Student Council president. "Some people have money, some don't; some have parents, some don't. We're different, but the same in many ways."

A recent study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University indicates that public schools in urban areas, like Lawrence and Lowell, are becoming steadily more "nonwhite" because of several factors, including the growth of the Latino, black, and Asian populations, and what some experts have dubbed "white flight" - the move from urban to suburban areas by the white population.

In Lawrence, where the public school district was never under a state court mandate to desegregate, the school system has become a reflection of the community, with Latino children making up 82 percent of the total enrollment in 2001. At Lawrence High School, the percentage of Latino students was 86 percent, according to the state's Department of Education. Six percent of the student body is white.

Just a few blocks away is Central Catholic, which can attract a student body from 35 cities and towns and thereby foster a more integrated environment, both racially and socioeconomically. Of its 1,100 students, Central attracts 25 percent from Lawrence. Combined with students from the other communities, Central has a total of 15 percent Latino, Asian, and black students.

"Urban segregation is happening all over the country," said Marguerite P. Kane, associate professor of political science at Merrimack College in North Andover. But she noted that "a lot of students attend Central as a regional Catholic high school . . . so they draw from a different population."

Central Catholic principal David M. DeFillippo said his school is diverse because of its original mission to educate the children of Lawrence immigrants. He also credits a mix of good academics and Catholic values for the school's attractiveness to students from different backgrounds.

"Any student, whether they're Cambodian, Latino, or suburban white, if they have that ambition to succeed in education, in life, are going to be drawn to a school with a strong college prep background. Secondly, Catholic schools are teaching a set of . . . Gospel values [of] respect, love, and concern for one another," DeFillippo said. "When you have something like that, everyone feels welcome regardless of race or socioeconomic background."

"But that doesn't answer the question, `Why are suburban kids here?' " DeFillippo said. "I've heard this from many parents, more than I thought I would hear it from, `The world out there now more than ever is a diverse, cultural world. I want my children to live, work, and play with a diverse group of people.' In the past half dozen years, I've heard that far more often than I heard it 25 years before."

Integration at Central is most evident in shared areas such as the cafeteria and the gymnasium, where every student seems to know each other. At sporting events, students say, their teams are the most diverse. DeFillippo said that integration was improved eight years ago when the school began admitting girls.

"When I see children whose families have six-figure incomes with their arms around a kid whose family is in transitional assistance, it's how you'd want the world to be," said DeFillippo.

Dan O'Shea, 18, a senior at Central, said race is not an issue at the school, but that he enjoys the integration. "You don't even notice. You focus on [the people] not the race," O'Shea said.

Senior Royland Nolberto, 16, attended Lawrence schools through eighth grade, but said it wasn't until he got to Central that he felt like a minority for the first time. However, he added his peers did not make him feel that way.

"It was an overwhelming feeling. I was intimidated, but after a while, you get used to it and it's not an issue anymore," Nolberto said.

For 16-year-old junior Nicole Jussaume of Lowell, the experience was reversed. She said before coming to Central she attended all-white parochial schools and that Central was a culture shock at first, but not anymore.

"I met a lot of people. . . . Everybody in Central has a really good heart. Nothing bad ever happens," she said.

Bare, the 17-year-old junior from Lawrence, said she knows of former Lawrence peers who turned down a chance to attend Central because of a fear that they would not be accepted by the student body. She said she overcame her fear with help from her mother and guidance counselor, who persuaded her to attend the school.

Copyright (c) 2003 Globe Newspaper Company

Times Leader, The (Wilkes Barre, PA)

October 6, 2005


ALREADY INTO the second month of school, Seton Catholic students have been keeping busy.

On Oct. 13, Seton Catholic will officially welcome the Class of 2009 into the Seton family. The annual family liturgy will take place at 7 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, Pittston. The Rev. Joseph G. Elston, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Avoca, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. The members of the board of pastors of Seton Catholic High School will assist.

All students and their parents are encouraged to participate in the Mass.

Key Club members are preparing for their annual Halloween Haunted Halls. This year, in conjunction with the Haunted Halls, the Key Club will have a dance for students in the sixth through eighth grades from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the high school cafeteria. There will no admission charge, and costumes are optional. Students must be dropped off and picked up by their parents at the Church Street entrance.

Seton Catholic's annual open house is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 30. Faculty and students are planning the afternoon's schedule. It is a time to share with interested parents and students the spiritual, academic, athletic and extra-curricular activities at Seton Catholic High School.

As fall sports are winding down, it is time to celebrate our seniors. Senior days for cross country and girls tennis have taken place. The cross country team honored Morlyn Lesho, William Lesho, Brian Simko, Stephanie Sutkowski and John Jurosky, while the tennis team honored Sutkowski and me.

The boys soccer team will have its Senior Day on Oct. 18. Brian Kosik, Craig Werts, Robert Sutkowski, David Nossavage, James Sulima, Sean Rooney and John Zelonis will be recognized.

Congratulations to our senior athletes!
Copyright (c) 2005 The Times Leader

The Tampa Tribune

August 28, 2003

Readers Agree Need Exists For A Catholic High School
Author: Joe Humphrey

We asked readers for their opinions last week on the need for a Catholic high school to serve east Hillsborough County. We heard from parents throughout the area who say they would welcome such a school. The comments were edited for brevity and clarity. Here's what some of you had to say:

My two children attend St. Stephen Catholic School. I firmly believe there is a need and a desire among Catholic families for a Catholic high school in this area. My husband and I chose to place our children in a learning environment that will build upon the foundation of Catholic values we worked to establish.

Like many others in the area, we moved our children out of A-rated schools and began paying not only tuition but monthly pledge payments to pay building costs. Please understand, we do not regret our decision. Our children are happy and, so far, they appear to be developing morally and spiritually in a nurturing, Catholic environment while receiving a good education. We would like that to continue without having to place them in a vehicle for an extra two hours each day.



There is a tremendous need for a Catholic high school in Brandon and I believe it would do well here. I have a fifth grader at St. Stephen Catholic School and I would love to see one built in time for him to attend.

If anyone has any ideas on how to speed up the process, I'd certainly be willing to help. I imagine there are many of us who would invest our time and money to see a Catholic high school in the Brandon area.



Most definitely a school should exist and should have already been in progress. It's regretful that our youngsters are only brought along halfway through their Catholic education. It appears that, as parents, the options are to commute into Tampa - not a good thing to put the new drivers in such high traffic - or to send them to a new public school.

Our children are adults now. We sent them to Nativity Catholic School. It was very stressful in trying to figure out how we could manage the transition to carpool to two schools (we have one son and one daughter) plus two tuitions when the time came to send them to high school.

We opted to send them to Armwood High School. We're not saying that Armwood was not a good choice. However, had we had the opportunity to continue with Catholic school we would have.



Since moving to the Lithia area two years ago, I've been asking fellow church members when they think we will get a Catholic high school in Brandon. The answers are always vague.

As members of Nativity Catholic Church and School, we plan to continue our daughter's Catholic education through high school. At this point, we face the prospect of a lengthy drive into a neighborhood far from our own.

I would like to see a Catholic high school built in the Lithia area. There seems to be an abundance of land, and with the booming FishHawk community, there would be more than a sufficient number of students to fill it.



My children both attended Nativity Catholic School from kindergarten to eighth grade. My son went to Jesuit after Nativity, and my daughter will be a senior at Academy of the Holy Names this year.

I am lucky in that I do not work, and I was able to work out carpools for both of them. My daughter had 13 girls from Nativity go on to Academy with her, so there were many from the area that we could drive with. I know how difficult it is for parents that work to have their children so far across town. Many times we have gotten emergency calls for help with rides. You can't just pop down to the school if your child is sick. Also, besides the cost of driving, we are paying more than $10,000 in tuition.

I am not complaining, the education my son and daughter are getting at those wonderful schools is very much worth it to us. I know that if a Catholic high school was built in the Brandon area, there would be no doubt it would be filled, and there would be great community support. Nativity has a large and dynamic youth group with high school students.

I am sure that many of their parents would choose a Catholic high school if one was available in our area. There has been much "talk" about this over the years. I feel that it is time for the Church to address the need for our community.



There is a definite need. I live in Plant City and both of my children attend Nativity. I know of numerous families in the Plant City area. ... There's a need for the high school. You start with a good foundation, Nativity does that, and you want to continue that.


Plant City

Count me in. We live in Thonotosassa and our children attend Corpus Christi Catholic School in Temple Terrace. Our children are in the the first and third grade. We would love to see a school in the Seffner area, perhaps close to Intestate 4 and County Road 579. The school being planned in the capital campaign was the primary reason we contribute to the campaign.



My child attends St. Stephen Catholic School in Riverview. It would be a shame to spend a lot of money for a Catholic education in grade school and not be able to follow it up with a Catholic high school education. I would definitely send my child there.


Apollo Beach

We have four children and the two older ones attend Nativity Catholic School, in kindergarten and preschool. We would love to see a Catholic high school built in the area and would certainly support it by sending all of our children. We are hoping it gets built by the time our oldest graduates from Nativity.

It would take us, at the very least, 30 minutes to get to Academy of the Holy Names and even longer to get to Jesuit or Tampa Catholic.



We are active members of Nativity Catholic Church, with four young children who are, or will be, attending Nativity Catholic School. We are committed to getting a Catholic high school in our area. We are loyal parishioners who would also like to see much more openness at both the diocese and parish level about their plans. In today's environment of church scandals and cover-ups, both our bishop and local pastors would be much better served by beginning and continuing an environment of more effective and open communication.


Copyright 2003 The Tribune Co.

Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)

December 9, 1999

Author: MICHAEL A.W. OTTEY - The Oregonian


An article on Thursday's Portland Page gave the incorrect source of $2 million for the new Catholic high school to open in North Portland. The money will come from the Brothers of the Christian Schools of West Coast Province.

Article Text:

"This is not only a wonderful day for the students who will be able to share in this school, but it really is a wonderful day for the folks in this Portland community." -- JOHN VLAZNY, PORTLAND ARCHBISHOP

Portland is getting a new Catholic high school.

The school will be housed in North Portland at the former Queen of Peace grade school on North Delaware Avenue. It will serve mainly low-income families who live in the neighborhood, said Brother Stanislaus Campbell of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the school sponsors.

Campbell, who flew in from San Francisco to make the announcement at a news conference Wednesday, said the school will be aimed at students who would like to attend a Catholic high school but cannot afford the tuition at existing ones.

Tentatively, the school will be named La Salle North Portland High School. The proposed tuition? "Whatever the families can afford," Campbell said.

He said $2 million from the Portland archdiocese has been set aside to help pay the tuition of those who need financial assistance. Annual tuition has not been set.

Asking for sponsors

In addition, sponsors are being asked to contribute. Already some companies have stepped forward to offer scholarships for needy students. Precision Castparts Corp. of Milwaukie, for instance, has offered to pay the tuition of 10 students, Campbell also announced.

North Portland had a Catholic high school 30 years ago. On July 14, 1970, fire destroyed the North Catholic High School on North Lombard Street. At the time about 500 students were enrolled.

The new Catholic school will enroll between 225 and 250 students by the time it has all four grades in place. The plan is to open the school next fall with only 50 freshmen, add a 10th grade in 2001, 11th grade in 2002 and 12th grade in 2003, Campbell said. The school will be co-educational and offer a college-prep curriculum, he said, as well as remedial programs.

Catholic students will be given preference in enrollment, but the school will be open to all, Campbell said.

Fall opening

The goal is to open the school next fall, but there's so much that needs to be done that the deadline is not guaranteed, Campbell said. A board of trustees must select a principal for the school, for instance.

La Salle North Portland will be loosely affiliated with Milwaukie's La Salle High School, also Catholic. Allen Burns, vice chairman of the board of trustees of that school, founded in 1966, said officials at Milwaukie's La Salle saw the need for a parochial school in North Portland. Enrollment at Milwaukie's La Salle is at capacity, and the school turns away about 200 applicants every year.

Burns doesn't see the new school as competing with existing Catholic high schools such as Jesuit, Central Catholic and St. Mary's Academy, but just adding to the choices students have.

Burns, who was a freshman at North Catholic High when it burned, said officials at Milwaukie's La Salle proposed a parochial high school in North Portland because the area was underserved.

Greg VanderZanden, president of La Salle High, said 45 students who live in North and Northeast Portland attend La Salle. Those students, who attended Holy Redeemer School in North Portland -- a kindergarten through eighth-grade Catholic school -- could have attended the proposed new school instead.

"This is not only a wonderful day for the students who will be able to share in this school," said Portland Archbishop John Vlazny, "but it really is a wonderful day for the folks in this Portland community." You can reach Michael A.W. Ottey at 503-294-7668, or by e-mail at

Copyright (c) 1999 Oregonian Publishing Co.

San Ramon Valley Times (CA)

March 20, 2005


It would be the first Catholic high school built in the East Bay in more than 40 years, giving Tri-Valley students an alternative to traveling to Concord, Hayward or Oakland for such an education.

The Catholic Diocese of Oakland has been working for the past several years on plans for a high school near Springtown in northeastern Livermore that, if built, could accommodate between 1,200 and 1,600 students.

The diocese has applied to the city for annexation of 122 acres near Springtown and will seek approval of the high school pending updated financial studies, said Mark De Marco, superintendent of schools for the diocese.

"We think there is a need," De Marco said. "On a national level, people are moving out of the inner cities to the suburban areas, and that spurs the need to start creating high schools and elementary schools. We think -- it would be a win-win for everyone."

De Marco said a new Catholic high school in Livermore would be more convenient for Tri-Valley families and, at the same time, relieve enrollment pressures that have forced kids to be turned away from such schools as De La Salle and Carondelet Catholic high schools in Concord.

At present, 53 students from Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon attend De La Salle, a school for boys, which this year had 450 applicants for just 260 freshmen slots. Carondelet, for girls, also has a waiting pool.

Julie Thomas, principal of St. Isidore's elementary school in Danville, said demand among parents wanting their kids to continue at a Catholic high school within reasonable distance is growing.

"I've got families committed to Catholic education who will, at least temporarily, not be able to get their kids in a Catholic high school because of space; and these are high-achieving students," Thomas said. A school in Livermore also would give Tri-Valley families greater choice among Catholic schools, she said.

"I think it will definitely be a good thing for the valley," Thomas said.

Dublin resident Sally Oto, who has two kids attending St. Raymond elementary school in Dublin, said if a Catholic high school was in the valley, she could perhaps take a second job to afford the tuition and still have time to get her kids to and from school.

But she said as things stand now, her kids will attend public high school when they finish eighth grade.

"My dream and hope was for them to go on to get a Catholic high school education, but a couple of things -- the distance and the astronomical cost -- have deterred me," Oto said. She said that although public schools also are good academically, "I wanted Catholic values, tradition and environment."

Although some kids at St. Michael's elementary school in Livermore end up going to high school in Concord, Hayward or Oakland, "I think there would be several more who would make that choice if it were in the immediate area," said Sister Emmanuel Cardinale, St. Michael's principal.

In addition to the conventional Catholic school being eyed for Livermore, the diocese is considering a new Catholic high school in Oakland that would be modeled after Chicago's Jesuit-run Cristo Rey High. It combines job training and academics for students in low-income areas.

De Marco said it is believed the Livermore school could easily attract 1,200 students from throughout the Tri-Valley, Tracy and Fremont areas. Although it could open in a few years, it would likely occur in phases, starting with 300 freshmen.

With only a couple hundred kids expected to come from Livermore, even at full operation, the new Catholic facility would not eliminate the need for a third public high school in town, according to Livermore school district Deputy Superintendent Bob Bronzan.

Demographics of students at Catholic high schools vary from school to school and from city to city. De Marco said although most in the East Bay are Catholic, about 80 percent, that drops to about 65 percent in Oakland.

East Bay Catholic High Schools

There are 57 Catholic schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties - 48 elementary and nine high schools. Total enrollment is about 20,000 students.

Copyright (c) 2005 San Ramon Valley Times

Huntsville Times, The (AL)

March 31, 1996
Plans move past talking stage for local Catholic high school

Huntsville Catholics have long talked about the possibility of opening a Catholic high school in town. Now the talkers appear to have been inspired by a relatively new leader, the Bishop David Foley.

Foley, who took over the Birmingham diocese, which includes Madison County, less than two years ago, officially announced plans to build a Catholic high school to a packed room of more than 100 community leaders and area residents at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Airport Road Saturday.

Three Catholic schools in the area - Holy Spirit and Holy Family, both in Huntsville, and St. Anne's in Decatur - provide instruction through the eighth grade, and St. John's the Baptist is expected to open in Madison this fall for grades kindergarten through fourth only.

However, the only Catholic high school in Northern Alabama is St. Bernard's in Cullman, leaving about 80 area eighth graders without a local option to continue Catholic schooling next year.

The surge of interest and planning for a local Catholic high school, which hasn't been named, followed an announcement last fall by Foley that he wanted to see such a school in the Huntsville area.

"This energized us into action," said Ed Manlove, chairman of the Catholic high school committee.

"It is the right move at the right time," said County Commissioner Robert Colson, speaking of the proposed high school's importance to families of federal employees relocating from St. Louis to Huntsville under the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

From 3 to 5 percent of Madison County residents consider themselves Catholic, said Manlove, whereas Catholics comprise almost 50 percent of the St. Louis population, which supports two Catholic high schools.

Commissioner Colson was joined in the standing-room-only audience Saturday afternoon by Mayor Chuck Yancura of Madison, and Carolyn White and Jerry Quick, both of the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The proposal has also received the support of Mayor Steve Hettinger and Superintendent Ron Saunders, said Manlove.

The high school would not be limited to Catholic students, but would follow the tradition of "educating anyone who comes to the door" said Father Louis Giardino of Holy Spirit Catholic Church. However, all students would have to attend Mass each day.

The opening of a Catholic high school in Huntsville is now contingent upon three things, said Manlove, which need to be accomplished before this fall. They are:

The 30-member Catholic high school committee must raise enough money in community donations for the first year, estimated at about $270,000.

The school needs a sufficient number of applicants for a freshman class, projected at 50 students. "We need 50 students, but would open with less than that," said Manlove.

The committee needs to garner the official approval of Foley, but only after fulfilling the first two requirements.

The plan to lease and to renovate a building has kept the proposed cost of the school to $270,000 plus what would be paid in tuition, said Philip Bifulco, the committee member in charge of finance.

Some textbooks and some services that are available to all public students would be available to students at the Catholic high school, but the majority of funding beyond tuition will have to come from community contributions, said Bifulco.

Proponents say tuition would be about $3,600 per year; however, there are plans to provide financial aid.

The new high school would occupy one of several proposed buildings in the Research Park area near the University of Alabama in Huntsville, proponents said.

The school probably would open with just a freshman class, but a 10th grade is possible at this point, said Kathy Murray, the committee member in charge of marketing. The number of interested students hasn't been determined; registration forms were distributed for the first time Saturday at the church.

The benefits of being a member of the first class would include selecting a mascot, song, and colors, as well as having the first students' names on a school plaque and having some say in the eventual dress code.

The committee plans to launch its fund-raising campaign by April 30. Contributions can be made to the Catholic High School Fund at any Compass Bank.

Copyright, 1996, The Huntsville Times