St. Anne to expand to include high school students

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comFebruary 11, 2014 

Students in Rock Hill will have another choice for high school next year as St. Anne Catholic School expands to include students in grades K3 through 12.

The school currently only serves students up to the eighth grade, leaving families in the lurch in the high school years, said marketing coordinator Michelle Hatchett.

“We feel as if continuing and completing K-12 Catholic education is important for our area,” she said.

The move to expand St. Anne to include the upper grades has been in the works for more than a decade, Principal Shaileen Riginos said.

Traditionally, Catholic high schools were established with several “feeder” elementary and middle schools, she said, but Bishop Robert Guglielmone, head of the Charleston diocese, is looking for new, innovative models. Simply expanding the current school made the most sense.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, St. Anne will add a grade level a year – starting with ninth grade – until the high school is fully established. The first seniors will graduate in 2018.

“I’ve always wanted our kids to go to St. Anne because I think they have the best academic education and I think they’re getting the morals and virtues we teach them at home at school, too,” said St. Anne parent Beth Hart. She called the creation of the high school a “blessing” for her family, which has three St. Anne students, all in elementary school.

St. Anne parent and teacher Melanie Rainier said her family was “absolutely thrilled” about the addition of the high school. She has a daughter in sixth grade and a son in eighth, and she hated the idea of having to send them somewhere else after finishing middle school.

“My kids have both been there since kindergarten, so it was heartbreaking to me that my kids were going to have to leave St. Anne and not be able to finish their Catholic education in our diocese,” Rainier said.

A committee of parents and staff members created the formal proposal to establish the high school. It was an extensive process, Hatchett and Riginos said.

“I was surprised by the level of research that went into making sure we would be a school that would match up to other proven schools in our diocese,” Hart said.

Now that St. Anne has received permission to move forward, Riginos said, the school is mapping out what the first year will look like academically and with extracurricular activities. To determine what activities will be available, current seventh- and eighth-grade students were surveyed on what they’d like to see.

“It’s very cool for my son, since he’ll be in the first graduating class,” Rainier said. “They’ll have a big say, and the kids will really come out with something wonderful.”

While academics come first, Riginos said, what sets St. Anne apart from other area private and public schools is the faith component.

“The biggest thing that we focus on is academic excellence and Catholic identity,” she said. “What sets us apart is being able to integrate that in everything we do.”

The goal is for each grade to have around 25 students, Hatchett said, so even at the high school level, St. Anne will retain its “close-knit” feel. Although the school has plans to one day expand its facilities, next year’s ninth-graders will stay in the school’s current building on Bird Street in Rock Hill.

Tuition for high school students will be around $6,000 each year, Hatchett said. Some students already have registered for next year’s class and many more have expressed interest and support, she said.

“We want to serve our community and complete the K-12 education,” Hatchett said. “We want to expand on what we do so well.”

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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