MYRTLE BEACH—When St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School opens its doors in 2016, it will mark a crowning achievement for Catholic education in the state.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who blessed the property during a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 7, said “with the opening of this school, Catholic education will be available for all ages in every part of the state.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will be the sixth high school in the diocese, and the seventh to provide secondary education. St. Anne in Rock Hill starts at kindergarten and will have its first graduates in 2018.
After months of rain, the groundbreaking was celebrated under blue skies with members of the planning committee and community leaders. Bishop Guglielmone was joined by Fathers James LeBlanc, Anthony Droze, Ronald Farrell, Norbert Mendonca and Antony Zaki, a priest of the neighboring St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church. Jacquie Kasprowski, associate director for secondary education, also participated along with Theodore “Ted” Hanes, the new principal.
“It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity,” said Hanes, who will officially begin his new role in January after 22 years at Elk County Catholic High School in St. Marys, Pa., where he was a teacher and then vice principal since 2011. He said he’s looking forward to escaping the brutally cold winters, even though he’ll have to give up downhill skiing.
The high school has been a long time coming for the Pee Dee, going back to when the late Msgr. Joseph Roth was pastor of St. Andrew Church in 2000 and a feasibility study was first conducted. Father LeBlanc took the reins in 2011 along with other area priests. He was enthusiastic about the groundbreaking, the upcoming construction, and especially the first day of school for students, slated for August 2016. It will begin with the ninth grade and grow from there.
Feeder schools for St. Elizabeth include Holy Trinity, St. Andrew and St. Michael, all about equidistance from the high school property, plus children of area parishes from Conway to Georgetown, Father LeBlanc said. The land is nestled on 50 acres in the Carolina Forest, donated by the diocese.
So far the fundraising committee has received pledges of $4.1 million, with a challenge goal of $5 million. The funds will cover four phases of construction, plus future growth. The first phase will include six classrooms, a chapel, media center, lab, art and music rooms, and lunch and staff space. The next three stages will grow the building, adding an eventual basketball court, stage and commons area.
Participants said excitement was palpable.
“The doors aren’t there yet, but I’m excited to open those doors for our students in August,” Hanes said.
Photos by Keith Jacobs/Miscellany