Catholic School Matters Top 5

First, the good news. There are a slew of new Catholic schools dotting the landscape and we need to celebrate this good news. I’ll be interviewing most of the new school leaders on the Catholic School Matters podcast. This week, I’ll drop two podcasts including conversations with seven founders of these new Catholic schools.

In West Texas, the long dream of a Catholic high school in the Diocese of San Angelo came true this fall as Holy Cross High School opened its doors to 9th and 10th graders. Founding Principal Carolyn Gonzalez in on the podcast and describes the efforts of the community to open this great new school.

The Cristo Rey Network of schools added two more schools this fall. Cristo Rey St. Viator High School opened in North Las Vegas with a freshman class of almost 100 and a brand new building! It’s the first Cristo Rey HS to open in a brand new building, courtesy of a $35 million capital campaign. Founding president Fr. Tom von Behren, CSV, joins me on the podcast to describe the great work.

Cristo Rey Richmond High School opened in the former Benedictine High School with 96 students. CEO Peter McCourt joins me on the podcast to tell the story of this great new school.

In Denver, Our Lady of Victory High School opened under the classical model as part of the Chesterton Schools network. Founding president Dr. R. Jared Staudt joins me on the podcast to describe the efforts of establishing this unique high school.

Another unique school, Kolbe Catholic Academy, opened its doors as the nation’s first Catholic recovery school designed to serve students in the Lehigh Valley battling drug and alcohol addiction. Founding principal John Petruzzelli joins me on the podcast to talk about their successful new model.

After a $30 million plus capital campaign by the Light of Christ Catholic Schools in Bismarck, a new St. Mary’s Central High School opened. President Gerald Vetter returns to the podcast to describe the efforts to build this great new high school.

In Cleveland, St. Ignatius High School founded a new Jesuit middle school, the Welsh Academy, to serve low income youth. Founding president Fr. Raymond Guaio, SJ joins me to describe the dream of this unique effort.

In Traverse City, the diocese was able to demolish an old building and establish a brand new Immaculate Conception School. Central Catholic HS in San Antonio celebrated a $12 million upgrade to its facility. In Rockford, a new Catholic school opened, consolidating four former schools into a new venture. New Hampshire saw its second new Catholic school open in as many years.

Last spring, I shared the news of a new STEM high school in Burbank and a planned new classical high school in Burnsville, Minnesota. There are many stories to celebrate!

At the same time, we need to be vigilant. Over the summer, I came across news of seven Catholic schools which were suddenly closed:

Top 5

In this week’s newsletter, I spotlight the new Catholic schools which opened their doors this fall semester. I hope you take the time to learn from each story and reach out to congratulate the founders if you’re moved. I’ve pulled out an additional four links which follow the theme of enrollment and mission. The Top 5 Articles:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, there’s a great 7-minute video about a dual language school in Texas. The principal, Bill Daily, casually mentions that the school’s enrollment has dipped to 98 students and now it was around 450. Why are we not paying more attention to this?!? He talks about the risk of adopting a dual language model, the “messiness” of the church at times, and the need for innovation.
  2. Two blog posts were sent to me which touch on enrollment and deserve a look. Rob Birdsell, the Executive Director for the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Education, writes about the need for Catholic schools to change their focus to what parents want based on the NCEA marketing report. Frank Donaldson, the President of IPSD, described how one school increased its enrollment by 50 students. It’s a great reminder of the simple steps that every school can take.
  3. In the Leadership section, the first article from HBR explores how to lead change in a company that is traditionally not open to change. Sound familiar? We all need to be leaders for change whether we are superintendents, principals, teachers, or parents.
  4. In the Miscellaneous Section, the first article explores how positive experiences in childhood can mitigate the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Isn’t that what we’re trying to provide with a loving community where every person feels like he/she belongs?

Have a great week!


This week, I am interviewing seven school leaders from around the country who were instrumental in opening new Catholic schools. I decided to divide them into two podcasts. On Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast I start with a conversation with Fr. Tom von Behren, CSV, the founding president of Cristo Rey St. Viator in Las Vegas. Then John Petruzzelli, the founding principal of Kolbe Catholic Academy, the nation’s first Catholic recovery high school, joins me from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Then Carolyn Gonzalez, the founding principal of Holy Cross High School in West Texas and the Diocese of San Angelo, describes the efforts to establish the diocese’s only Catholic high school. Finally, President Gerald Vetter of Light of Christ Catholic Schools in Bismarck, comes back on the podcast to describe the grand opening of the brand new St. Mary’s High School. On Friday, I’ll release another podcast featuring three other new Catholic schools. Peter McCourt, the founding CEO of Cristo Rey Richmond High School, is the first guest. Then Dr. Jared Staudt, the founding president of the Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Victory in Denver, describes their new classical high school. Fr. Raymond Guaio, the founding president of Welsh Jesuit Academy in Cleveland, describes the Jesuit effort to found a middle school near St. Ignatius High School.