First Catholic classical school to open

By The Compass | April 30, 2014

Bishop Ricken announces new GRACE System school to begin in fall of 2015

GREEN BAY — Bishop David Ricken announced April 29 that a new K-8 Catholic school will open as part of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system. During a press conference at the GRACE offices, Bishop Ricken and Norbertine Fr. Dane Radecki, GRACE System president, discussed the opening of a new Catholic classical school in the fall of 2015.

“The idea for the new school was born out of a need in the community that was brought to our attention,” Bishop Ricken said in a prepared statement. “A group of parents have shown interest in a school that follows a classical curriculum model, which includes in-depth study of the classical works of the western world. The goal is to develop complete thinkers who learn to draw on faith and reason for the purpose of building up the church.”

According to Fr. Radecki, parents who proposed the idea conducted a survey which indicated enough interest to bring their proposal to GRACE officials. Among the key findings of the survey:

  • 43 percent of those showing interest are home-schooled children;
  • 30 percent are in GRACE schools;
  • 20 percent are attending a public school.

“The survey indicated that the most interest was in the lower grades,” said Fr. Radecki. “Therefore, building enough interest to enroll a minimum of 18 students per classroom appears reasonable. The total number of students represented by the 53 interested families responding to the survey was 140.”

The new school will be located at the St. Joseph School site on Twelfth Avenue. A list of three name recommendations for the school will be presented to Bishop Ricken, who will make the final selection.

Fr. Radecki explained that he and the GRACE Board will govern the school. “We will form an advisory committee whose members are familiar with the classical curriculum,” he said.

He described the school’s classical curriculum.

“A classical curriculum is designed to provide an outstanding foundation in the academic disciplines of math, science, history, literature, logic, rhetoric, composition and language, integrated by regular study of and growth in the Catholic faith,” he said. “Classical schools differ from many other schools in that students are expected to employ the Socratic Method through which they learn from each other as well as the teacher. Latin is introduced, along with a modern language, in the middle school grades.”

An informational meeting will be held May 16, 6:30 p.m., at the GRACE offices, 1087 Kellogg St., and registration will open during Catholic Schools Week in January 2015. Tuition, fees and fundraising goals will be consistent with other GRACE schools.

The school expects to open with grades K-3 in the first year and gradually add a grade each year. Class sizes will be around 18 to 22 students in the early grades. In addition, before and after school care, an early childhood program for 3 and 4-year-olds and a lunch service will be offered.

According to a fact sheet provided by the diocesan Communications Department, other classical schools exist in the state: Providence Academy, a Christian classical school housed in St. Jude School in Green Bay, with more than 100 students; Classical School, a charter school in the Appleton Area School District, with an enrollment of 400 students; and St. Ambrose Academy in Madison, a grade 6 to 12 school with 93 students.

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