By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
There will be a reason to celebrate at Saint Camillus Academy on Sept. 8.
That is when the historic school on the hill — at the end of Roy Kidd Avenue in Corbin — will begin its new school year.
It just so happens that same date is the 100th birthday of the academy.
What formerly began in 1908 as Sacred Heart School became the current Saint Camillus on Sept. 8, 1913, when the school was established by the Sisters of Divine Providence.
And on Thursday, Saint Camillus Academy of Corbin, Inc. announced that the non-profit corporation has secured a lease agreement with the sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence.
The lease is for the school property for the upcoming school year.
Both the lease and an operating agreement were approved with one-year terms and annual renewal terms available, for all buildings, equipment, supplies and other facilities. Officials said the agreement will allow the school to operate at the same location it has been since 1908.
The new corporation’s secretary, Scott Webster, said Saint Camillus is ready for a fresh start.
“We’re really excited about this. We’re keeping all the good things, and there’s been a lot of hard work done by the teachers and staff, and by the parents and friends of Saint Camillus. We’ve held our breath for awhile, but now everybody’s looking forward to the next chapter of this historic school,” Webster said.
Webster, a London attorney, has a son who will be in the fourth grade at the school this new school year.
“The lease and operating agreement not only help secure the future of Saint Camillus Academy, but also show that the nuns in the Congregation of Divine Providence want it to continue. The lease opens the door to entering into secure long-term partnerships with our parents and donors,” said the school’s principal, Terry Newquist, in a news release.
Saint Camillus Academy of Corbin, Inc. is the corporation formed by parents after the Diocese of Lexington announced in January they would end their agreement to operate the school a year early.
While the Diocese operated the school, the Sisters of Divine Providence — a community of sisters based at Saint Anne Convent in the northern Kentucky city of Melbourne, located on the Ohio River in Campbell County — own the buildings and property.
Webster said after the announcement by the Diocese, a flood of support from the community and friends came to the school’s aid.
“The corporation was set up as a new non-profit corporation made up of volunteer, independent Board of Directors answering to a membership made up of parents of the school’s students. The group is ready to operate the school at this point and excited about a fresh start,” he said in a news release.
Sister Carleen Schumacher, a member of the Congregation of Divine Providence, a former Academy administrator, and a member of the current board, signed the lease agreement with Webster.
In a meeting of parents, faculty, board members and interested people in February, it was Sister Carleen who announced the Sisters were willing to lease the buildings for a dollar a year if parents could keep the school open this upcoming school year.
She said in a news release, “The new Board of Directors has worked very hard to start fresh but we will certainly be continuing with what has made Saint Camillus Academy strong: the faith-stimulating religious education programs, the challenging up-to-date academic curriculum, employment of certified and qualified teachers, high parent involvement, individualized student attention, and a disciplined environment with a family spirit.”
Webster said while formal Catholic education would continue to be taught, the school welcomes students of all faiths, regardless of race, color or creed. He added the school is seriously considering adding an eighth grade class in addition to elementary and middle school for grades one through seven, and a Montessori program for children 3-5 years of age.
“We’re also working on getting our marketing campaign done. Marketing the school hasn’t been done in years. We’ve had good responses at our open houses, and each time, people have talked to us and checked us out. So the word’s getting out about our school,” said Webster.
He noted fundraising activities would continue with one coming up next week and a larger one planned later in the year.
The upcoming one is next Saturday, June 8 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Local 133 restaurant in London, and features a performance by soprano Amber Pearce, most recently with Opera Orvieto in Orvieto, Italy. She was formerly with Bluegrass Opera, Berea Lyric Theater and the Paragon Music Theater company in Lexington.
“We may raise $10,000 from that fundraiser,” Webster commented.
With the signing of the lease agreement, several parents of children who attended Saint Camillus said they are setting their sights to Sept. 8. Paula Jackson’s children went to the school in the past. Currently a physical therapist in Corbin, she was recently elected chairperson of the new board of the new corporation.
“We will very much enjoy celebrating the Academy’s 100th birthday in our new school year in September,” she said in a news release.
Newquist replied she plans to stay on as the principal of Saint Camillus.
“It’s been a long way getting here. We’re looking forward to continuing the school. We’d like to see it go another hundred years.”