Roughly eight months after St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson laid out a plan for Catholic education in the region designed to boost enrollment and a stronger Catholic identity, five schools in St. Louis County are coming together in ways that school leaders hope leads to a similar result.
St. Monica and Our Lady of The Pillar in Creve Coeur, St. Richard in unincorporated St. Louis County, Holy Spirit in Maryland Heights and Ste. Genevieve du Bois in Warson Woods celebrated a mass at St. Monica Monday to kickoff Central County Catholic Schools: Partners in Mission.
The partnership is not a merger. It is a three-pronged approach that will see the schools work together on marketing, academics and professional development for teachers.
"Bringing these students together in perhaps math contests or other kinds of academic endeavors as well as extra curricular endeavors will cause children to meet one another and even take greater pride in our need to preserve this great tradition in this part of the St. Louis Archdiocese," George Henry, the Archdiocese School superintendent told Patch after the mass. He pointed to a similar grouping of schools in North St. Louis County which saw enrollment losses as families left the area for St. Charles County in recent years and successfully rebuilt student rolls despite changing demographics.
Too often, Henry said, schools which compete against eachother on athletic fields were going it alone when it came to staff development and other areas, resulting in duplication of efforts and resources.
The same can be said of a marketing approach. Now, under the new arrangement, schools will be more colloborative when it comes to recruiting students and their families. St. Monica, which enjoys a more visible location along Olive Boulevard at Interstate 270 in Creve Coeur, may be in a position to help other schools that might be harder to find.
"Once you come here, if the school doesn’t meet your needs, we’ll be able to say how about visiting Holy Spirit, Our Lady of the Pillar, or somebody else, there might be other schools that they’ll be more interested in," said Kathy Hunt, St. Monica Principal.
This partnership took form in late summer, meaning the schools still have some of their own initiatives brewing, including an opportunity for prospective families to visit Our Lady of the Pillar Wednesday.