Catholic high school moving forward

Although start-up funds are still needed, plans for Holy Cross Catholic High School, which would serve students around the area, are moving forward.
Bishop Michael Sis said negotiations are underway with a parish in the Odessa-Midland area to house the school temporarily to get it started in the fall of 2018. He declined to say which parish because nothing has been signed yet.
Plans are to start classes in 2018 with 96 freshmen and sophomores.
Wendy Holland, president of the board of Holy Cross Catholic High School, said expectations are that figure would ramp up to about 500 students after about five years.
Holland said the nonprofit corporation hopes to raise $750,000 to start, but will need $20 million all together.
Fasken Oil and Ranch Ltd. has agreed to donate almost 50 acres of land on Holiday Hill Road to the nonprofit Permian Basin Catholic High School. Holland said there will be 29 buildable acres.
The school will sit on Holiday Hill Road, south of the Tom and Nadine Craddick Highway/State Highway 349 Reliever Route. It is near Green Tree North and the Green Tree Country Club.
Sis said the high school plans to provide transportation for students from Odessa.
Holland and Sis said the school is going to focus on hiring a principal, who would be responsible for hiring other administrators and developing the curriculum.
Sis said their desire would be to have a principal hired this summer.
“We’d prefer a principal who has prior experience in Catholic high school administration,” Sis said. “That’s our goal. That’s our aim and we also prefer someone who has the proper certification for Catholic high school administration.”
“There’s special preparation one does for administration in a Catholic school,” Sis added. “It requires familiarity with our faith and our morals.”
Holland said the curriculum will be in keeping with the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.
“The curriculum in a Catholic school in Texas has to follow the curriculum guidelines that are set by what’s called the Texas Catholic Conference, which is a statewide office of the Catholic Church in Texas. They have standards for Catholic schools that apply to all Catholic schools in the state, so we would follow those standards,” Sis said.
Holland said people in the area have wanted a Catholic high school for at least 10 years.
Sis said it’s ambitious to start a new Catholic high school, but not unusual. He noted that there are Catholic high schools opening in the South and Southwest, although schools in the Midwest and Northeast are closing.
“What’s fascinating is in many of those Catholic schools have the student body that is majority non-Catholic. … Our student body would be majority Catholic, but we would also welcome non- Catholics to enroll if they wanted,” Sis said.
Sis and Holland said they are pleased things have gotten to this point. St. Mary’s Central Catholic School and St. Ann’s School in Midland will be the feeder schools for Holy Cross, Sis said.
“It’s exciting,” Sis said. “It feels like an adventure. It’s an act of faith. We’re praying a lot because we realize that we cannot achieve this goal on the basis of our own strengths alone. The only way that we would achieve the goal of opening and running the school is by the grace of God, so we entrust the project to God’s providential care.”
Holland said she thinks the high school will be a beacon for Catholic education in West Texas.
“And it is a completion of the body of Christ where we will have our high school students in a Catholic high school. And the body of Christ is going to have to come together to get it all done. It’s going to be a real effort on the part of the whole community, not just Catholics,” Holland said. “It will be Christians community-wide because this is a project that is good for our community. …”
Sis said a Catholic high school seeks to form the whole person – intellectually, spiritually and as a person. “It’s not just about learning subject matter,” he said.
“Here’s another thing to keep in mind – a Catholic high school is seeking to form the whole person – intellectually and spiritually, humanly. It’s not just about learning subject matter,” Sis said.
Holland said the objective is to have students who graduate that are leaders.
“Typically, one of the things that distinguishes Catholic schools from others is the high level of parental involvement in the education of their children. That’s one of the keys to success of Catholic schools is parental involvement.”
Sis said teachers in a Catholic school usually earn a little less than public school teachers, but they’re motivated by the faith element and retained by the cooperative atmosphere and the discipline and behavior of the children.
In Catholic schools, Sis and Holland said, there is high parental involvement and teachers find they can bring problems to a faster resolution.
Sis and Holland said sports will be part of the high school, as will fine arts.
Sis and Holland said the cost also will be competitive with other private high schools in the area.
Sis and Holland said students do not need to be Catholic to attend the school.
“Catholic schools have centuries of experience around the world offering Catholic education, but welcoming non-Catholics. … It’s very common, so the non-Catholic students are made to feel welcome,” Sis said.
Holland said the school wants to focus on creating students that graduate who are successful in the fields they choose to work in, or go to college.
Sis said statistics have shown that a student who has gone to a Catholic high school is more likely to be active in practicing their faith as an adult than someone who doesn’t go to a Catholic high school.
Holland said she has fielded quite a few phone calls from parents who are not Catholic, but want another option of a private education for their child. She added that this is inspiring her and motivating her on the project.