Charleston Catholic traditions are rooted in history

CHARLESTON — The following information about Charleston Catholic School was provided by Fred McKay, principal.

History: The Charleston Catholic School opened in August 1991 when  Sacred Heart and Cathedral schools were consolidated. Charleston Catholic is the successor of other historic schools. We carry the torch of Catholic education, now 121 years, handed down to us by Cathedral, Sacred Heart, Immaculate Conception, St. Patrick and St. Joseph, which was the first Catholic school on the peninsula and was founded in 1887. Bishop David B. Thompson established Charleston Catholic on the campus that served Sacred Heart School on upper King Street since the 1930’s. Sister Carol Ann Kleindinst, of the Sisters of St. Mary Namur, was the first principal and opened the school with 186 students. She was followed by Sister Bridget Sullivan, of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, and Yvonne Tolley Orr.

Principal: Fred McKay, since 2006.

Faculty: The school has 12 full-time and seven part-time teachers.

School motto: “Discover the Imagination. Imagine the Discovery.”

Grades: Pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Number of Students: 197.

After-school program: Charleston Catholic School’s extended day program is a service offered to parents and their children. Care is provided from 3-6 p.m. on school days. If interested, students can participate in extra-curricular classes such as violin, trombone, ballet, karate, chess club and Mad Science.

School colors: Red and white.

Mascot: The Saints.

Sports: Basketball, cheerleading, soccer and tennis.

Let us brag: Our diverse student body is what makes us so special. We are proud to say our families’ heritages represent many countries around the world and the ethnicity of our student population is as follows: Asian 1 percent, Hispanic 4 percent, multi-racial 5 percent, black 19 percent, and white 71 percent.

Advanced classes: Pre-algebra for seventh-grade and algebra for eighth-grade.

Foreign language: Spanish is taught to all of our students.

Academic clubs and honors: Junior Beta Club grades sixth-eighth, Duke Scholar Program grades fourth-seventh, and Bishop England Outstanding Eighth-Grade Scholar Program.

Biggest change over the years: The transformation and revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods.

What sets us apart: Our arts curriculum and activities engage students’ talents in visual, musical, theatrical and kinesthetic arts. During the school day, students take classes in art, band, chorus, creative expressions, drama, movement and music. After school enrichments include ballet, trombone and Suzuki violin.  Several arts performances are scheduled during each semester.

Community projects: Each year, students collect and donate food and toiletry items for the New Charleston Place Group Home for juveniles and for Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services on Johns Island. This past Advent, students collected and donated toys for the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center for abused children. Throughout the year, students donate TAG day money to charities such as St. Leo the Great Catholic School in New Orleans, the Dee Norton center, and Birthright of Charleston.

Our parishes: Our school is supported by the five Catholic parishes on the peninsula of Charleston and includes Cathedral, St. Mary, St. Patrick, Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Mercy. Our school chaplain is Msgr. Joseph Roth.

Wishes for our school: Charleston Catholic resides in older red brick buildings built in the 1930’s and 1950’s, and modernization of our facilities is an ongoing wish in progress for our school.

How we demonstrate the Catholic faith: At the start of each day, the entire student body assembles in the school hall for prayer. Students attend Mass every Wednesday. We live the Gospel message that “all are welcome in this place.”

Our top awards or honors are: One of our students won first place for structural design at the 2008 Lowcountry Bridge Building Competition; several students earned 2008 region band awards and state honors choir awards; and our sixth-grade art class won first place in the 2006 City of Charleston Christmas Tree Decoration Contest.

Alumni of Note: Alex Romanczuk, who made a perfect 2400 SAT score in 2007, and was the only student from South Carolina in 2007 with a perfect SAT. After graduating from Charleston Catholic School, Alex graduated from the Academic Magnet High School and now attends Stanford University.

What percentage of students are Catholic: 79 percent.