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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For years a lot of folks have wanted a Catholic high school in the Cape Fear, but it looks like that will not happen any time soon.

During a visit to Wilmington today, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Raleigh Diocese said that talks of building a long-sought Catholic high school here are on hold.

“For now we say it’s suspended, but it’s always a possibility,” Bishop Burbidge said.

In September Bishop Burbidge announced that building a Catholic high school in the Wilmington area was in the works. To do it, though, the diocese needed a firm number of families pledged to enroll students.

“We would need to have at least 50 in the freshman class to begin the process, and so when the opportunity was presented as to how many would be sending their children to school, it was significantly below that,” Burbidge said today.

A feasibility committee came to the final conclusion that the numbers did not work.

Bishop Burbidge says though he’s seen tremendous interest in a high school for our area, now is not the time for it.

“So much energy and time has gone into it, so I think we just need to step away from it for a little bit and to see if it picks up any momentum in the future,” Burbidge said.

The bishop says there is no timetable for re-examining the idea.

Comment on this Story

  • HH6

    Well, looks like I’ll be homeschooling my kids through HS. We’re a retiring Catholic military family of 5 relocating for a civilian job to the Wilmington NC area. After researching the option to try Catholic HS for my upcoming 10th grader, this article is what I found. I’m shocked at this since there are two Catholic middle schools in the area. Maybe if Catholic HS was made more affordable people would send their kids. It doesn’t take staffing the faculty positions with nuns ect. either. Some of the BEST private school teachers I’ve known have been parents from an existing church community willing to teach for very little pay. It’s true the school would have to start small, but over time I imagine more and more people would like the idea of continuing their child’s Catholic education up through the HS grades. Not to mention the public school parents would appreciate the added option for their high schoolers if they’re not completely satisfied with the local public HS’s. Not everyone is looking for extensive sporting activities for their HS age kids. If they’re smart, academics and morality will be at the top of their list as to better prepare them for college and life. Sports and extra curricula activities abound in many communities and are easily tapped for the parent able to think outside the box. Anyway… Cincygal67, there is always homeschooling. It’s been the only way our transient lifestyle has been afforded the opportunity for academic consistency. We’ve used Catholic rich curriculums like Catholic Heritage in the lower grades and Seton in the upper grades. Good luck to everyone!

  • Guest757

    I really don’t understand how they can say they won’t have enough students. We have tried since the early 90’s to get a Catholic High School at that time we were told that we need 2 elementary schools to feed into the high school. Then they did a survey it was only sent to Catholic families in the Wilmington area even though the elementry school is more than 50% non-catholic. How about sending it out to families with school age children?
    I don’t think they are really looking into it… If there was a High School in the area that had reasonable cost it would fill up and you would have a waiting list…

  • Guestinwilmington

    They did look at the number of students. The diocese did a detailed investigation into the matter. The magic number was 50 I believe. They needed at least 50 families willing to commit to the school. They could not achieve this number. Another issue that in a high school like this is that you would have to start small, one grade at a time. There would be limited extracurricular activities to little or no sports. A lot of parents in high school are looking at the sports and clubs as an avenue to helping their child achieve acceptance into college. That alone would/could limit the number of students willing to commitment to a Catholic high school.

    The other issue, in my opinion, is that people are afraid of their children learning Catholic Christian teachings. I think that would be an additional factor in limiting the pool of students willing to commit. A Catholic high school is not meant to be a “private” school, or just an alternative to a public school education, it is meant to be a place where parents can continue their children’s Catholic education and children can continue to learn and grow in Catholic teachings.

    You also use the expression “reasonable tuition”, in order to provide the students with the best education possible, you would want to employ the most qualified teachers and staff. All of this cost money. Like commonsence said the days of Nuns and Priests staffing the schools at little to no cost are gone, sadly.

    A lot of parents pray that one day Wilmington will have a Catholic high school. It is too late for my children; however, I think we will see that dream realized one day.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    While I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I am the product of a Catholic education. There was a time when Catholic elementary and high schools provided a superior education in return for a nominal tuition. They had a near free labor force in the nuns and brothers who taught in the schools. Were it not for the efforts of a mother who spent hours teaching me after she had already worked eight hours, the Sisters of Saint Joseph in elementary school, and the Salesian and Franciscan Brothers in the two high schools I attended, my life would be substantially less than it is.

    Unfortunately, the number of people becoming nuns and brothers started declining in the Sixties and was in free-fall by the end of the Seventies. That source of cheap labor dried up and Catholic schools must now hire lay teachers and pay them market-based salaries. That drives up tuition to the point of being unaffordable for the families of those children who would most benefit from a parochial education that is un-influenced by outside political forces and concentrates on a traditional education.

    A property tax rebate program (I dare not write “school voucher”) would do much to assist parents who opted to place their children in parochial or private schooling.

  • Guest461

    You see? Another common sensical decision based on NEED, WANT, and DEMAND. The students simply aren’t there to support building a new school, so they scrap the plans until things change. The demand isn’t there to build a scrawny movie theatre on the southern side of Wilmington, so the “investors” scrap the plans until things change.

    But they sure as hell can build a multi-million dollar baseball field and another un-needed marina with taxpayer money!!! Does everyone see the difference between “investor” and “taxpayer” funded capital ventures now?

  • cincygal67

    We are moving back to Wilmington in June after being away almost 3 years with my husbands job…I planned on enrolling my daughter next school year as a Freshman…what are my other option besides Cape Fear Academy….

  • Lisa

    WE ARE A CATHOLIC FAMILY and I id NOT even get a vote!! Where was this survey? I have 2 kids I could enroll TODAY! Who did you ask? I know a lot of people that would commit to a Catholic High School, but we know nothing of this :-(

  • Lisa

    I would commit to 2 children today, so why wasn’t I asked? when they “looked” into the numbers, they didn’t look in my neighborhood :-( Could this be intentional?


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