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Holy Name High School to reopen: Escanaba school to bring Catholic education to entire U.P.

Holy Name School in Escanaba is shown. After decades of discussions about reopening a Holy Name High School, school officials have announced the school will open next fall. (Jessica Koth/Escanaba Daily Press photo)

ESCANABA — High school students, not only in the Escanaba area, but across the Upper Peninsula, will soon have an opportunity to receive a Catholic education.

Holy Name High School in Escanaba will reopen after 50 years, beginning with the 2021-22 school year, offering both in person and remote learning.

Area educators, parents, alumni, supporters and local pastors have been working toward this goal for several years. In January 2019, a major campaign under the slogan “Now is the Time” was publicly launched. Funds were, and continue to be raised, to cover start-up costs and to help with operating costs over the first few years, as well as to fund an endowment to provide ongoing financial support for the school.

After reviewing their efforts, Most Rev. John Doerfler, bishop of Marquette, agreed that “now is the time” to reopen HNHS.

“It is truly good news to have a Catholic high school in our diocese very soon,” Bishop Doerfler said. “Holy Name’s pre-K through eighth grade school is noted not only for its academics, but for developing its students into people of character and faith. I trust the high school will continue that tradition of educating and forming young people.”

Wanting their son, Isaac, to have a Catholic education with strong academics, Troy and Tami Sarles moved their family to Escanaba from Marquette when they learned the high school might reopen.

“Holy Name is everything we had hoped for and more,” wrote Troy and Tami. “The teaching and reinforcement of values and virtues of the faith by the school’s unparalleled administration, knowledgeable and caring teachers, as well as exceptional support staff and coaches is so valuable. Those qualities, in combination with the elevated academic standards, athletics, as well as extracurricular opportunities, and a solid Catholic community make attending Holy Name a truly special educational experience.”

Although the Sarles family chose to move for their son’s education, the curriculum will be available to those who are at a distance. Having navigated the COVID-19 crisis, Holy Name Principal Joe Carlson said, “Online learning is not something we wanted to explore, but we’re ready for it.” Carlson will lead as principal of the high school as well.

Father Timothy Ferguson, pastor of St. Joseph and St. Patrick Parish in Escanaba, said, “As a pastor, I am very excited about Holy Name High School reopening in the fall of 2021. Times like these require bold moves for Christ and for the Gospel, and opening the doors of our Catholic high school is just such a bold move. By educating our young people in the faith and in a faith-filled environment, we are preparing them to be the disciples and messengers that the Church needs — and that our society needs in the 21st century.”

The leadership team is using prudence in its planning.

The high school will open with two grades the first year, admitting freshmen and sophomores. The following two years will see junior and senior grades added as the students progress. It’s likely classes will be taught in a wing of the current Holy Name School the first year. After that, moving the Early Education Center — preschoolers through kindergarten — to the former St. Anne School building, which recently became available, is being considered.

HNHS will employ the Chesterton Academy Classical Curriculum, pending approval, which uses the Socratic method to immerse students in history, literature, philosophy, theology and languages to form articulate, clear-thinking, well-rounded and joyful individuals. Carlson said it’s “very reputable and many high schools are adopting it. We won’t be starting from scratch.”

Father Rick Courier, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle (Escanaba) and St. Anthony of Padua (Wells) parishes, said, “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the presence of Catholic education in our community, and provide another option for higher learning.”

While HNHS is on a sound financial foundation to start, there are still needs, especially building up endowments to provide permanent funding for the school. Michelle Bink is leading that effort and encourages anyone with questions or a desire to help to contact her. The school is also recruiting new students and welcomes parents to schedule an interview or school visit.

For more information, contact Bink by mail: Michelle Bink, Development Director, 409 South 22nd St, Escanaba, MI 49829; email: alumni@holynamecrusaders.com; phone 906-786-7550; or www.NowIsTheTimeHNHS.com.

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