St. Michael’s Catholic Parish announced Monday that it plans to offer another school option in Auburn that will begin operating in the next school year.
St. Michael’s Catholic School will open this fall, operate from the current Sacred Heart Hall on the church’s campus on North College Street and offer full-time kindergarten, grades one and two, with the potential that she could also offer a third year class if there is enough interest. Class sizes would be kept within a range of 15 to 20 students.
The idea of opening a school in Auburn has been discussed for years, Reverend Michael Farmer said. The idea of a Catholic school in Auburn gained momentum over the summer when St. Michael’s parishioners expressed interest in a new school.
“It was my stash – is it just a handful of people or is there really a desire for it?” said Farmer. “And the parish continues to grow, so a lot of the people coming in had a Catholic upbringing, which seemed to indicate that they wanted it for their own children.”
Farmer said St. Michael has seen substantial growth over the past decade and the parish has added about 50 to 60 families since 2020.
Conversation with parishioners over the summer led St. Michael to contact John Convey, professor emeritus at the Catholic University of America, to conduct an interesting feasibility study, which was conducted and completed last fall. .
“He studied for all kinds of dioceses across the country,” Farmer said.
Farmer said Convey conducted interviews with parishioners and reviewed the demographics of Auburn and surrounding communities likely to be served by a Catholic school.
“One of the things that really amazed him was the phenomenal growth of Auburn itself,” Farmer said. “Time and time again, his data and the interviews indicated that there was support from parents who have children in these age brackets, because we simply said that we envision a kindergarten may -be up to the third year to start.
St. Michael also announced that Debbie Brooks will serve as the new school’s first principal. Brooks is currently the principal of Pick Elementary School.
“I am truly humbled and honored to serve the community of St. Michael’s Catholic Parish in this new role,” Brooks said in a press release. “I look forward to seeing our students witness to ‘God’s footprints’ in their daily lives.”
Farmer said Brooks supports the idea of a Catholic school even though she also supports Auburn’s public school system.
“She, I think, had a great experience in Catholic schools herself and was very happy to see that we were looking at the serious possibility of bringing that here,” he said. education, which we need right now. She’s highly respected in the larger community, and so I think she’s just a good choice.
The new school will be open to all residents, not just Catholics, and will seek to provide another school option for people who live not only in the Auburn area, but in surrounding counties. The closest Catholic schools are located in Montgomery and Columbus.
Tuition costs are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks and registration is expected to begin in March. More information can be found at www.stmichaelsauburn.com.
St. Michael’s Catholic School has room to expand beyond a K-2 school in the future if there’s enough interest, Farmer said. St. Michael bought 51 acres off Cox Road last year that could serve as the school’s campus if it were to expand to offer a full K-8 school or even a high school. Farmer said he expects another feasibility study to be conducted this year to determine interest and support from inside and outside the parish for the school expansion. and to determine the cost of constructing a first phase of a new school on the recently purchased property.
“It’s a perfect location…and gets you to the freeway and also gets you closer to the university,” said Farmer, who added that the property also offers ample space for future growth.
St. Michael’s is currently completing the second floor of Sacred Heart Hall, which will provide “respite” for the school for the next two years, according to Farmer, who has pastored St. Michael’s for about three years. .
“I’m just really happy that the interest is popular,” he said. “It’s really generated a lot of positive conversations in the larger community about it.”