ROCK HILL—St. Anne is just two years away from having its first class of graduates and becoming the only school in the diocese to run from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade.
The students who are part of this pioneering class are thrilled to be setting precedent and “coming up with the traditions of a brand new high school,” said Shaileen Riginos, principal.
For example, last year the first class of high schoolers started a literary magazine, and this year the two high school classes created a newspaper fittingly called “The Hamlet,” a small village.
“Because we’re small, the whole experience is very personalized,” Riginos said.
Her twin daughters are part of the high school student body, leading the way forward.
“I especially love the fact that in some 10 years, traditions we have begun will continue to live on,” Alex Riginos said. “By being a pioneer, we are able to instill anything and everything into the high school.”
As of now, the sophomore class — which will be the first graduates in 2018 — has nine students and the freshmen class has 16, and they’re all working hard to make it a success.
“It is really cool [that we’ll be] the first to graduate from the high school,” said Alex Rainier. “St. Anne has been around for more than 60 years and we are going to become a permanent part of that history. We were the first integrated school in the state and now we are also the first K-12 school in the diocese. I feel like we are making history around here.”
The students have started a variety of clubs, including drama, and participate on a number of sports teams.
“I love the fact that the students are so involved with everything — there is no set criteria for us, and our teachers firmly believe the sky is the limit for us,” Grace Riginos said.
The unique concept of a K-12 school came about because St. Anne is the only Catholic school in its area, which means there aren’t enough feeder schools to create a separate high school. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone approved the format in 2014.
To prepare for the academic needs of a high school, several classrooms were added and construction of a science lab is underway. St. Anne also has a large special education program and offers opportunities for financial assistance to all students.
Riginos said plans for future growth are very much a parish project, and church and school officials have begun discussions on how to manage expansion.
Currently, high school students share a wing with the middle school grades, and the older teens are anxious to have their own space.
“I know there is a plan in place to expand and we have been expanding and building a little bit each year, but I would love to wave a magic wand and have it all finished right now,” Rainier said.
Miscellany Photo/Jeff Blake: Ninth grader Josie Bawter reads a list of qualities she wants in a friend as part of a bonding exercise on Aug. 20. St. Anne Catholic School ninth and tenth graders spent a night and two days bonding at the Worthy Boys and Girls Club outside of Rock Hill, SC.