Catholic middle school to open in
Hays on TMP-Marian campus
Change brings with it opportunity.
On June 12, 2011, the Hays USD Board of Education voted to close Kennedy Middle School, the smaller of its two middle schools, in an effort to cut district expenses.
Four days later, the pastoral leadership of the Heartland Parishes of Ellis County formally approved the expansion of the curriculum and activities at Thomas More Prep – Marian to include a seventh and eighth grade beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.
Currently, Catholic students in preschool through sixth grade attend Holy Family Elementary School, and ninth through 12th grades attend TMP-Marian. Now the Hays community will have Catholic education available for students K through 12.
Bill DeWitt, TMP-Marian principal, along with his staff, will be taking on the responsibility of the influx of students next year, promising to make the TMP-Marian campus a lively hub of activity. Hays Catholic schools are prepared to provide an education for any students who want to be a part of the K-12 system.
“We’ve been having so many discussions internally for so long. It’s an unbelievably exciting time,” DeWitt said. “Our faculty and staff have been working and praying for this decision, and they are one hundred percent behind this expansion. Everyone is excited, and we’re going to make it happen.”
Almost 200 parents and prospective students gathered at TMP-Marian auditorium Jan. 8 to listen to the plans of the school’s administrative team for the new junior high. Principal DeWitt was joined by athletic director Gene Flax, assistant principal Rachel Wentling; counselor Kathy Taylor; and Michelle Fairbank of the admissions office, and advancement director Jeff Brull in explaining plans for curriculum and other activities.
Dewitt emphasized that the special needs of the junior high age group would be central to the operation of the new grades. Other key ideas included preparation for high school and providing a safe environment where students can flourish. The athletic programs will include football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling and track. The athletic teams will be open to both seventh and eighth graders.
It is expected that four core teachers and a counselor will be hired. The school colors, mascot, and fight song currently used for grades 9-12 will also be used for grades 7 and 8. The curriculum will include six-week exploratory courses in addition to the traditional junior high school course work. An enrollment day is scheduled Feb. 3 from 3:30 to 7 p.m. in the school dining room.
Funding for the expansion is being provided largely by the St. Thomas More Society, a new fundraising effort led by the Advancement Office at TMP-Marian. The St. Thomas More Society is a grass-roots effort to involve everyone who has a stake in Catholic Education.
A website has been established with frequently asked questions, a draft of the junior high handbook, a listing of the donors to the St. Thomas More Society, and much more. This information can be found at http://hayscatholicmiddleschool.com.