New school year brings a school unification and an assistant superintendent

SUMTER—Another high school is moving under the umbrella of the diocese.

St. Francis Xavier, a private Catholic high school in Sumter, will unify with nearby St. Anne and St. Jude parish school, said Kristi Doyle, who has served as principal of both for the past two years.

A bit of history

Doyle became principal of St. Anne primary school in 2005. It was founded in 1954 by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy. The name was updated to St. Anne and St. Jude when the parish, formerly The Catholic Community of Sumter, was established as St. Anne and St. Jude Parish in 2016. The change gave identity to both churches and created a sense of oneness at the same time.

St. Francis Xavier was established by a group of parents from St. Anne, St. Jude and Our Lady of the Skies parishes in 1997. It was recognized by Bishop Robert J. Baker as an independent school within the diocese in 2000.

Doyle said the unification will now bring that sense of oneness to the two schools, calling it a natural progression for the community.

Maintaining Catholic education

Doyle said dwindling enrollment meant the parish and private schools were competing for the same resources.

So the parishes and both school boards united and began working toward the goal of maintaining Catholic education from kindergarten through high school.

“The best way to move forward with Catholic education in Sumter was to become one school,” she said.

Doyle said they are currently converting St. Catherine’s Convent into the new high school wing of St. Anne and St. Jude and “with a lot of prayers”, hope to have it completed by December.

St. Francis Xavier, which has about 20 students, will be folded into the St. Anne and St. Jude campus once renovations are complete.

In other school news

The Catholic Schools Office created the new position of assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction as part of its five-year redevelopment plan, and hired John Reyes to fulfill that role.

Sandra Leatherwood, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the purpose of that role is to “provide professional development to faculty to enable them to address the academic needs of the students.”

Also, five schools in the diocese hired new principals, who will be at the helm at the start of the school year beginning Aug. 20.

For more information on back-to-school news, read the Aug. 30 edition of The Catholic Miscellany.