MYRTLE BEACH—As Catholic Schools Week approaches, students at the Diocese of Charleston’s newest high school are finally home.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic High School’s students, faculty and staff officially moved into the new building at 1300 Carolina Forest Blvd. just before Christmas break on Dec. 16.
Classes had been held in a nearby church since school started in August because construction on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was delayed by weather.
“There were no glitches in the move and everything has been running smoothly,” said Principal Ted Hanes. “It was a great feeling all around to get in the new building before Christmas. It’s a beautiful facility and students, parents and staff have been very happy with it.”
Msgr. James LeBlanc, who has led fundraising efforts for the high school since 2011, celebrated the first Mass at the new building on Jan. 4, which was also the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
The school’s feast day also came during a milestone month for Catholic education, as Catholic Schools Week will begin Jan. 29 and run through Feb. 4.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone mentioned the new high school’s namesake in a letter he released, urging people around the diocese to focus on the vital contributions Catholic schools make in the lives of the Church and the community.
“… St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann were champions who provided for the founding of Catholic schools in this nation. They saw a need for an interaction of faith and culture and had a drive to help form souls for several purposes: the faithful following of Christ, sound family life, devoted Church membership, and good citizenship,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the sixth high school in the Diocese of Charleston, which now includes four diocesan high schools and two private ones, plus St. Anne School in Rock Hill, where students can attend from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The new Myrtle Beach school marks a milestone for the diocese, which now offers an opportunity for Catholic education to students all around the state.
Plans for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were in the works for more than 15 years. A feasibility study was first conducted in 2000, and fundraising took place for many years. Msgr. LeBlanc said the committee has raised about $4.2 million toward a challenge goal of $5 million.
He said the school is grateful to St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, located across the street from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton campus. Father Antony Zaki, who leads the congregation at St. Mark, graciously offered classroom and office space when it was obvious the building wasn’t going to be ready when classes began Aug. 17.
Currently, 11 students are enrolled in the first freshman class, which will become the first graduating class in 2020.
John Paul II Catholic School, located in Ridgeland, is another “still new” school in the diocese. It opened in 2014 and now, with 204 students in grades 7-12, will have its first graduating class this year, said Walter Dupre, principal.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton currently draws students from the area’s three Catholic schools: St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, St. Michael in Murrells Inlet, and Holy Trinity in Longs, plus other students new to the area. The school’s location helps fulfill a goal of being convenient for students from parishes and schools across the Pee Dee.
Hanes said he does not have a projected figure for enrollment for the 2017-18 school year, but meetings will begin on Jan. 31 for prospective parents and students.
A community open house will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 29.
Top photo, Miscellany/Keith Jacobs: Dan Dittmeier, a teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, interacts with his students in the brand new school.