This Post First Appeared in My Meridian Press | By Holly Beech
The Treasure Valley’s first new Catholic school in 50 years is opening in Meridian next summer.
The St. Ignatius Catholic School will be located next to the Holy Apostles Catholic Church by the intersection of Meridian Road and Chinden Boulevard in northwest Meridian.
At full capacity, St. Ignatius will have an enrollment of 470 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade and will be the largest Catholic school for that age range in the Valley. Annual enrollment will be $4,000 for registered parishioners and $5,000 for those who are not registered, according to Karen Mahoney, chairwoman of the St. Ignatius School committee.
The community and the Holy Apostles parish — the largest parish in Idaho with 2,900 registered families — have raised most of the funds needed for the nearly $10.6 million project, Mahoney said.
“The people have been generous. We’ve raised over $9 million,” she said. “It’s all through donations of parishioners and the community that this is being built.”
ABOUT ST. IGNATIUS
The St. Ignatius school will follow a Jesuit education model with four pillars: academics, service, community and social justice.
“A lot of the Jesuit model is they are taught to see God in all things,” Mahoney said. “In people that they encounter, they are looking for God in that person, and they’re treating them that way.”
A ceremonial groundbreaking takes place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and construction will begin in mid-July.
Brittany Brady of Boise, a mother of four, has been eagerly awaiting the school’s opening for years. Her oldest will be in third grade when the school opens in August 2017.
“Having St. Ignatius is a chance for our students to be educated mind, body and spirit, where they can go to school and have a rigorous academic experience but also learn a lot of character traits that are important to our family,” she said. “Having a strong sense of community is important to me.”
Brady is also pleased that St. Ignatius has brought on Andi Kane as principal, formerly an assistant principal of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic School.
“She cares about every student individually and wants to help each of those students find themselves and be the best version of themselves,” Brady said. “So even though it’s expensive, I don’t know if you can really put a price tag on that.”
The name St. Ignatius was chosen in part to pay tribute to the Valley’s large Basque population, Mahoney said. St. Ignatius was born in a Basque province of Spain in 1491. He came to emphasize the importance of education, even delaying becoming a priest “for more than 12 years and to undergo the drudgery of the classroom at an age when most men have long since finished their training,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
A ‘RESURGENCE’ OF ENROLLMENT
The Treasure Valley’s five — soon to be six — Catholic schools feed into one high school, Bishop Kelly High School. With growing demand, Bishop Kelly is looking to grow by 200 seats by August 2018 to have a total enrollment of about 1,000 students, said Jim Reed, the superintendent of Catholic schools in Idaho.
“It’s very apparent that their freshman class is going to be huge, and it is already. They (will) have a waiting list,” he said.
About 16 percent of Idaho’s population is Catholic, Reed said. In the late 1960s, the state had 24 Catholic elementary schools and three high schools. That’s now down to just 13 elementary schools and one high school because of factors such as increased education costs and declining enrollment, Reed said.
But enrollment at Catholic schools is seeing a “resurgence,” he said.
“We’ve gone through … the trough and are looking at kind of a renaissance of Catholic education in Idaho,” Reed said.
St. Ignatius is committed to serving all students with a high quality new school choice for the Treasure Valley and is part of Bluum’s 20 in 10 Initiative.