St. Katharine Drexel Preschool is just weeks away from opening its doors on the campus of Pax Christi in Highlands Ranch, but what has Father Jim Baron even more excited is that the preschool is setting in place the foundation for the first Catholic elementary and middle schools in the community.
Under the guidance of Pax Christi and St. Mark Catholic parishes, St. Katharine Drexel – set to open Sept. 3 – will offer a faith-based, classical education that focuses on technological as well as environmental components. Upon opening, the school will serve ages 3 to 5 at Pax Christi, but next year expects to offer kindergarten as well.
“We’ll add on one grade at a time, each year,” Baron said. “And hopefully within two to three years we will have a stand-alone brick and mortar building either here at Pax Christi or at St. Mark’s.”
The plan, he says, calls for either building a K-5 school on one campus and a middle school on the other, or building two K-8 school buildings, one on each campus. Parental input will be a big part of that decision as they move forward, he said.
“Right now we are just excited to open our doors,” he said. “It’s going to be real shot in the arm for the Parish. Douglas County schools themselves are very good, and we were very pleased that it was the school district that proposed the voucher system.
“The district realized they can provide a science and technology school, they can provide music programs, they can provide Montessori and charter schools, but they can’t provide anything to address parents that want to raise their kids with a faith-based education. We are excited that it seems to be moving forward. For all the great schools that are here, that is a big gap.”
Baron said there are close to 2,500 families that attend St. Mark’s and Pax Christi alone, and with only Ave Maria in Parker offering a K-8 Catholic education in Douglas County, they expect to draw families from all over the area.
“We need to have the influence there from the time they are young to say ‘faith is important, it is part of everything you do and central to the decisions you make,’ ” said Holly Goodwin, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Colorado Springs that oversees Catholic Schools from Burlington to Leadville and Colorado Springs north to the Douglas/Arapahoe county line.
“Students who attend Catholic school are four times more likely to remain Catholic and four times more likely to join a Parish and be actively engaged,” she said. “We don’t succeed until the students understand that their gifts are from God and that are to be used to serve Him and to serve others, to make a community better.”
St. Katharine Drexel is located underneath the Parish Hall at Pax Christi, 5761 McArthur Ranch Road in Highlands Ranch. For more information or to receive registration forms, contact Debbie Evans at 719-866-6456.