ROCK HILL—Families from St. Anne said the decision to expand into a high school is an answer to their prayers.
For many years, parents expressed a desire to include ninth through 12th grades in the school, which currently serves K-3 through eighth, said Shaileen Riginos, principal. But the plans never came to fruition because St. Anne doesn’t fit the traditional model, which calls for several primary schools to serve as feeders for a secondary school.
St. Anne is the only Catholic school in its area, so expanding into a high school took some creative thinking. With input from Sandra Leatherwood and Jacqualine Kasprowski, who oversee diocesan elementary and secondary education, and the approval and support of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, Riginos said they decided to simply grow their current school by one grade each year, until they reach 12th. The first graduating class will be 2018.
“There are a lot of people who are cheering this decision,” said Michelle Hatchett, marketing coordinator.
Some of the biggest cheerleaders are the students themselves. Enrollment just opened for the next school year, and six of the 19 eighth-graders have already signed up.
“I’m excited about St. Anne for ninth grade because of the smaller classes,” Riley Pack said. “I have always done better in small classes. It will help me maintain good grades in school. I’m also excited about more opportunities for the performing arts.”
Riginos said they are busily planning out the next few years. The goal is to maintain the close-knit environment of St. Anne with classes no larger than 25, and to offer new opportunities for the upper grade students, such as the creation of student government.
The first class will help launch the new school and provide direction and leadership for the younger students, she said.
Before the recent decision, families had to decide between a secular high school close to home, or traveling to Charlotte.
Grace Rea, a seventh-grader, is already planning to stay.
“I think it’s a really good idea to add high school to St. Anne,” she said. “If I went to Charlotte Catholic, I would have to wake up every day at 4 a.m. to start my day. At St. Anne, I will eventually be allowed to drive to school!”
Gus Krause said he’s looking forward to the creation of a jazz band, and Julia Costantino said she’ll have stronger academics than at the public school.
Parents are also happy, noting the positive family environment that Riginos has helped revive, and the strong focus on faith.
The first year will be a smooth transition, Riginos said, with just a bit of shuffling, but the years after that will require more space and additional staff. The school has launched a development fund and is mapping out its options.
Read more about Catholics like you by subscribing to The Catholic Miscellany