Archdiocese, parents weigh need for new high school or elementary

September 17, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

A Sykesville mother says she doesn't need a feasibility study to know there's a demand for a new Catholic high school in southern Carroll or Northern Howard County.

But the Archdiocese of Baltimore does need a study and says there is just as loud a cry for an elementary as for a high school, said Ronald Valenti, superintendent of education for the archdiocese.

A parent meeting Sept. 26 will be one step in figuring out what to do, Dr. Valenti said. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul-Resurrection School on North Chatham Road in Ellicott City.

"We have to make sure the impetuosity for the building is tempered by the reality and [that] it's a well-studied, thought-out plan," Dr. Valenti said, adding that the school should be one that will provide at least 10 years of service.

Principals and pastors from the area already have met. Eleven parishes are represented on a planning committee of laymen, clergy and educators. After all of its meetings, the planning committee might conduct further surveys with a consultant, Dr. Valenti said.

The effort by Gaile Waldhauser of Sykesville and parents from the 10 other parishes is the first serious effort to open a Catholic high school in the archdiocese since the 1960s. Such efforts also have begun in Frederick and Anne Arundel counties.

Enrollment in Catholic schools, which declined through the 1970s and 1980s, has been increasing steadily in this decade.

"We do have a demographic study, and statistics say we're going to experience a real growth in the area up to the year 2015," Dr. Valenti said.

"The whole thing is to inform parents of the school and for [the archdiocese] to see how many people are really interested in it," Ms. Waldhauser said. "It's very important we have a good turnout."

Ms. Waldhauser and other families from the St. Joseph Catholic Community in Sykesville first met more than two years ago to consider starting a new elementary school. But after initial discussions, she said, they decided they really wanted a high school.

Carroll and Howard counties have no Catholic high schools. Students who want a Catholic school travel 45 minutes to an hour to schools in Baltimore, Frederick and southern Pennsylvania.

Ms. Waldhauser and several other parents send their children to elementary and middle school at Holy Family in Randallstown. A group of Howard County parents has started Woodmont Academy, a Catholic elementary and middle school, this fall in the Baltimore County section of Woodstock, near the Howard and Carroll county lines.

Still, Dr. Valenti said he has been hearing parents who want an elementary school, and there are waiting lists at nearly all of the Catholic elementaries in Carroll and Howard counties.

"We can't build both," he said.

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