New kid on the block | St. Louis the King School at the Cathedral continues quality Catholic education in familiar location
There's a new but familiar face in the Central West End, continuing the mission to provide quality Catholic education in a well-known location.
St. Louis the King School at the Cathedral is a new elementary school on the campus of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, in the former Cathedral Basilica School building on Maryland Avenue. It is not a parish school, but an archdiocesan school, with assistance and oversight provided by the archdiocese through the Catholic Education Center.
"This mirrors the archdiocesan high schools," explained Maureen DePriest, director of mission schools and special projects at the Catholic Education Center. There are currently two other archdiocesan elementary schools, Most Holy Trinity in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis and St. Cecilia in south St. Louis. There are 10 archdiocesan high schools, owned and administered by the archdiocese.
St. Louis the King School is open to any child, but particularly serves the students of Cathedral Basilica School and Central Catholic School and Academy, both closed at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Central Catholic was three miles north of the Cathedral Basilica School and served three northside parishes. DePriest explained that the Cathedral Basilica School had a top-notch facility but low enrollment issues, and Central Catholic had facility issues that would have required very expensive repairs and renovation.
The solution became "clearer and clearer," DePriest said. The two schools were closed and a new school was opened, with new faculty, staff and administrators, which includes some personnel from the two closed schools who applied for new positions.
Donna Garcia, the principal, is an experienced educator and former principal and a longtime member of the Cathedral Baslica Parish. "My children went to the Cathedral School," Garcia said.
Garcia said she's "excited" about leading St. Louis the King School, which she said will benefit from being an archdiocesan school. "We can offer services the students need," including a learning consultant, counseling services, art, music, gym, differentiated instruction and technology. There are also extended-day and before-school programs to help working parents. "We are trying to reach all the students wherever they are and move them forward."
The school is on track to meet its goal of 150 students for the 2012-2013 school year, DePriest said.
Garcia said the students enrolled are a diverse group. "They are predominantly African American, but socio-economically they are extremely diverse," the principal said. Tuition is $3,500 for the first child, Garcia said, and scholarship assistance is available through the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation.
While many of the students are non-Catholic, Garcia stressed St. Louis the King is a Catholic school, fully embracing Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's call to have a strong Catholic identity. "We teach and practice the Catholic faith. We begin and end every single day with prayer. And we have prayer in between. Students will go to Mass once a week, and we will have sacramental preparation."
DePriest stressed that school personnel are working closely with parents and building relationships with every family. "That is a big key to success," she said."This will truly be a community of faith, focused on relationships with Christ and with each other."
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