The movement toward starting a Catholic High School to serve the academic and faith needs of teens in the southwestern part of Wisconsin continues to progress.
Holy Family High School has been established in name and legal status as an independent Catholic school. Though Holy Family High School cannot technically be named as a Catholic high school until given the title under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, it will offer its students an education based on Catholic faith and traditions.
“We’ve heard everything from ‘it’s about time’ to ‘this is an answer to our prayers!’” said Terese Olson, president of the Catholic High School Board. “Certainly, the Board has been encouraged by the strength from families conviction about a Catholic High School.”
A survey of most Catholic elementary schools in the southwestern portion of the state shows additional interest in starting and maintaining an area Catholic High School for their teens.
“When this inquiry for an area Catholic High School began with a survey at the local St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Dodgeville, we went into this endeavor knowing of the need for such a school within the regional area of Southwest Wisconsin,” said Olson. “We were reassured by the many voices of families outside of Dodgeville who support the plan for a regional Catholic high school.
“The interest from the parents is the increase in desire of offering an education based on both reason and faith to assist in their children’s decision making when faced with the many challenges teens face.”
At a time in life when their children are becoming more independent in thought, Catholic parents see the need to further the foundation of spiritual faith in addition to reason and knowledge.
“This time in our culture is different from most others in the past,” said Olson. “Today’s teens are inundated on a daily basis with the auto-pilot secular messages streaming in from all forms of media. Encouraging spiritual direction and moral foundation have become secondary to providing teens with the latest must-have gadgets and opportunities that can, all too often, provide for unwanted situations without appropriate guidance.
“A Catholic high school provides an excellent framework for teens to be able to learn in an educational environment where both reason and faith are valued. As teens learn to analyze text to prepare them for critical thinking in college or beyond, whether it is in the areas of English or Social Studies or Science, it is crucial for them to be able to recognize the moral implications by the authors. The understanding of ethics is made so much easier when morality is the foundation.
“Our responsibility of assisting the youth with a platform for moral foundation from which to base decision-making on is greater today than it has ever been. These teens cannot start a Catholic high school for themselves. It is up to us, as adults and community, to help provide and support this opportunity of Catholic High School education for them.”
In addition, having a community that offers alternative education sources creates a more attractive environment for businesses and families to grow and thrive in.
“We’ve heard parents say that when they moved into the area, realtors discussed with them the opportunities of both public and Catholic elementary options,” said Olson. “Offering an additional high school choice within the area of Dodgeville is just another feather in the cap of an already wonderful community. Offering a Catholic high school option to families within the Southwest region of the state provides a faith based option for those whose choice of commuting to either Madison or Dubuque for that opportunity is clearly impractical.”
Support for such a school continues to increase from other outside sources, Olson said.
“In addition to the parents interested, we’ve had individuals from the community offering financial support, an engineer offering his assistance to the students for senior engineering projects, and former athletes and coaches offering assistance for a sports program,” she said. “When we started this movement, we believed there were persons within the community with this shared vision as we heard the comments supporting the school. The Board is continually encouraged by the offers of support.”
Holy Family’s goal is to open in the fall of 2013.
“As an independent school, no monies are provided by the state,” said Olson. “It is up to outright donations, fundraising and tuition that will finance the school. Over and over, we witness faith in action providing for those who don’t have the opportunity to provide for themselves. Time, talent and treasure of others within the community can go a very long way to make this worthy endeavor a success.”
For additional information and offers of support and donation, contact Olson, TereseFOlson@gmail.com, (608) 225-4799.