Reaction to New Catholic School
Katee Christensen, a junior at Rock Bridge High School, went to Catholic school until the end of her freshman year. She says she's enjoyed both experiences in public and private school, but one thing she really liked at Helias in Jefferson City was the idea of a close-knit family. She went to school with the same group of people and knew almost all of her classmates. Her mom Rosemary Christensen also supports the school and says it was nice for Katee to have the sense of family at Helias; at the same time, she says it was hard to get to know people because they came from all over the mid-Missouri area.
"She was spending a lot of time in a another town so it was really hard for me to get to know other parents and have that strong bond that I had at Columbia Catholic," said Christensen.
Rosemary says the idea of Katee driving 45 minutes to Jefferson City became a concern too. She says Katee has enjoyed her public school experience, but if Rosemary had more children she would definitely send them to the new school. The Catholic community says Rosemary isn't the only one who feels this way; it distributed surveys asking parishioners about various campaigns, including a Catholic secondary school. From those in Columbia who responded, 83 percent supported the idea.
Other private high schools in the mid-Missouri area are publicly supporting the idea too. The heads of school from Helias, Christian Fellowship, and Columbia Independent School all said they support the project. They say the Catholic high school buzz might increase awareness of other opportunities available to families.
Trent Amond, the Head of Columbia Independent School, said he's not worried about the new school affecting Columbia Independent's enrollment because it is not a faith-based school.
"There's no question Columbia has a very good public school system but that doesn't mean it's the best experience for every individual child," said Amond.
While Helias is the only Catholic High School in the surrounding area, Didier Aur, Helias president, says he looks forward to the new high school and isn't worried about losing students because it currently only has twelve Columbia students. The general consensus is the school will have a positive impact on education here and will offer another option for students who might not succeed in public school.
"I think diversity of high schools will help community spirit," said Scott Williams, the principal of Christian Fellowship.
He considers a Catholic high school to the area is a natural process as the town grows. But before it happens, the diocese hopes to raise $10 million.