Online survey opens regarding possible new “western” Catholic high school

What do you think about building or opening a new Catholic high school in the Galesburg-Monmouth-Macomb area?

The Diocese of Peoria is conducting a feasibility study and has taken the next step by publishing a survey online to see what families with school-age children think about the proposal. It is being conducted by Meitler, a consulting firm hired by the diocese, and may be accessed until May 20 by visiting meitler.com/peoria.

Father Jacob Rose, parochial vicar for the Galesburg Catholic community and local coordinator for the Western High School Study Group, said the opinion of everyone is appreciated. There is special interest in hearing from the people in Knox, Warren, Henderson, Mercer, McDonough, Fulton, Henry and Stark counties.

The proposed Catholic high school would serve the Galesburg-Monmouth-Macomb region.

“The primary goal is parents and grandparents,” Father Rose told The Catholic Post. “We’d like to hear from anyone who has a direct connection with high school education or future high school education.”

The 10-minute survey is available in Spanish, as well as English. Father Rose said that there are volunteers working as translators in the Monmouth area to make certain the survey is also available in French for the French-speaking community there.

GRASSROOTS INTEREST

Interest in the proposed high school came from the people in the western counties of the diocese, particularly Monmouth and Galesburg.

Msgr. Thomas Mack, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish and School in Monmouth and St. Patrick Parish in Raritan, told The Catholic Post that parents had been approaching him and principal Randy Frakes for two or three years and saying, “Boy, we wish we had a Catholic high school.”

He wrote to Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria, who said she was getting letters and requests from people in Galesburg, too. With the permission of Bishop Jenky, a study group was formed.

Demographics, school-age population, parental expectations, location, and a vision for the school are key aspects of the survey.

Introductory comments indicate that the proposed high school would likely be small to mid-sized and begin with ninth or possibly 10th grade. As the “pioneering” class progresses, one grade would be added per year through 12th grade.

Catholic education and faith will be emphasized, and the school would feature “best practices for 21st century education in critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, while utilizing technology to individualize the learning experience and enhance the curriculum.” Not only will college-bound students be well prepared, but classes in vocational trades and specialized courses are also being explored.

Among the questions is one for members of St. Paul Parish in Macomb, which asks if they would be interested in having seventh and eighth grade at the school. Currently, St. Paul School enrolls children in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, although expansion has been talked about in the past.

In addition to asking parents why they would send their children to the proposed high school, the survey gives them an opportunity to indicate why they wouldn’t choose that option at this time.

Meitler is scheduled to present the findings and recommendations to the Western High School Study Group, the Office of Catholic Schools, and Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in June.

For more information on the proposed high school, see the previous story in The Catholic Post.

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