Holy Name plans to add high school

Jordan Beck | Daily Press From left, Executive Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Marquette Mark Salisbury speaks during a press conference at Holy Name Catholic School Tuesday morning as Press Officer Keith Whitman, High School Planning Committee member Amber Hartman, seventh-grade student Natalie Williams, High School Planning Committee Chair Anne Carlson, Alumni/Development Director Michelle Bink and Principal Joseph Carlson look on.

ESCANABA — Holy Name Catholic School is planning to re-open its high school, school officials stated during a press conference Tuesday morning. The launch of a capital campaign to raise funds for this project was announced during the press conference.

At the press conference, High School Planning Committee member Amber Hartman spoke about the history of high school education at Holy Name. She said when Holy Name was established in the 1950s, it was a high school, however, the high school closed in 1971 as a result of multiple factors, including a change to school funding in Michigan.

“After the passage of Proposal C, which prohibited direct government funding of non-public education, many Catholic high schools throughout the state closed in the years to follow,” she said.

According to Hartman, public interest in re-opening Holy Name Catholic High School has remained strong over the years.

“It is no surprise … that even in an area that has several thriving high schools, one of the most frequently-asked questions Principal Joe Carlson has received over his 11-year tenure has been ‘when are you going to re-open the high school?,’ to which Mr. Carlson always replies, ‘when God wants it,'” she said.

In the fall of 2017, Hartman said a group of parents approached Carlson about the possibility of re-opening Holy Name Catholic High School. This group drafted an initial proposal, which they presented to the student council and Bishop John Doerfler. The bishop requested a feasibility study for the project; this study included a demographic analysis, focus groups, and a suggested timeline for the project, along with other elements.

“One thing that was abundantly clear from this extensive research is that Catholic families show a strong interest in keeping their children immersed in their faith throughout the high school years,” Hartman said. After this study’s findings were presented to the bishop, he authorized the planning of a capital campaign for the project.

Hartman said Holy Name Catholic High School would be the only school of its kind in the region.

“Currently, there are no Catholic high schools in the U.P.,” she said,noting carpooling and host family programs could be established for families outside the Escanaba area interested in having their high school students attend Holy Name.

She went on to speak about plans for re-opening Holy Name Catholic High School.

“This $10.7 million campaign is comprised of two phases,” Hartman said. The school’s re-opening would be entirely funded by donations.

The first phase, which has a fundraising goal of $6.5 million, will focus on getting Holy Name Catholic High School back up and running. This phase will include funds for the $5 million Crusader Loyalty Fund (an endowment to offset operating costs in order to help families pay more affordable tuition rates), $500,000 in cash on hand to cover upfront operating expenses while the school focuses on increasing high school enrollment, a $500,000 High School Tuition Angel endowment (which will be used to offer tuition assistance for people in need) and a $500,000 Crusader College Scholarship Fund (an endowment providing scholarships to graduating seniors planning to go into higher education and technical training).

Holy Name’s freshman and sophomore classes are expected to begin in 2021. From there, the school aims to introduce junior and senior classes in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The second phase of the project, which has a fundraising goal of $4.2 million, will fund a new addition to Holy Name’s building. This addition is expected to include seven new classrooms, a new main entrance and centralized administrative offices, a commons area, a courtyard and added parking.

An exact location for the expansion has not yet been finalized. Once 75 percent of the fundraising goal for the project’s second phase is collected, groundbreaking for the addition will take place.

While changes may be coming to Holy Name in the next few years, Hartman said the school will continue to focus on offering high-quality education, small class sizes and a wide variety of extracurricular activities and athletic programs.

“Most importantly, the school will remain committed to immersing the students in the truth, beauty and goodness of our Catholic faith,” she said.

Executive Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Marquette Mark Salisbury spoke about Bishop Doerfler’s support of and willingness to help with the project.

“One demonstration of that help is a financial commitment of $100,000 from the diocese to kick off this campaign,” he said.

Natalie Williams, who is currently a seventh-grade student at Holy Name, talked about her experiences as a Holy Name student. If the expansion project goes according to plan, her class will be the first to graduate from the re-opened Holy Name Catholic High School.

“What I think is so important about re-opening Holy Name Catholic High School is that I do not want my Catholic education to end in eighth grade. I want to continue my journey with Jesus, and I want to be close to him all week long,” Williams said.

Finally, Principal Carlson answered questions from the audience. One of the first questions he answered focused on student population trends at Holy Name.

“We finished last year with 304 students, we’re currently at 333 students, and next year, I think we’ll be above 350 students in the school,” he said, noting the opening of the high school could provide a boost to these numbers.

In response to a question on how the re-opening of Holy Name’s high school might impact the school’s relationships with other high schools in the area, Carlson said Holy Name is interested in continuing partnerships with these schools.

“We depend on them for a lot of shared-time programming already, and we hope that continues,” he said.

Carlson also elaborated on Holy Name’s plans for high school athletics. He said that, at first, the school plans to partner with other high schools in the area for this.

“Down the road, we hope that we … would be able to offer a whole athletic program for Holy Name,” he said. Later, Carlson led press conference attendees on a brief tour of Holy Name Catholic School.

For more information on this project, or to donate to the capital campaign, visit NowIsTheTimeHNHS.com.