NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—Holy Trinity School is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary and facing great changes at the same time.
Principal Karen Luzzo said the school, which was formerly located in Longs, will now find its home on the campus of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. Severe flooding damage caused by Hurricane Florence forced students and teachers to relocate to the church site in September, and Luzzo said the decision was recently made to remain there.
“We are currently looking at what we need to do at this facility so we can stay here permanently,” Luzzo said.
Floodwaters from Florence severely damaged the chapel at the site in Longs, requiring the building to be gutted. The social hall also had to be gutted floor to ceiling. The school building itself was not damaged inside, but skirting around the building had to be torn off because of contaminated water. Streets that lead to the building were also impassable for weeks after the storm hit.
Florence was not the first storm to disrupt life at Holy Trinity. The school also had flooding after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Luzzo said classes are currently being held on the first and second floor of the banquet hall and activity building at Our Lady Star of the Sea, and she and other staff members are working on a permanent plan.
Recently, they met with diocesan officials in Charleston to discuss their request to move, and it was approved.
“We are still periodically going out to the old school to get something we need, but it is not a safe environment to be in for long,” Luzzo said. “This has certainly been an interesting 10th anniversary. It is not what we had planned, but we are trying to look at it as God doing wondrous things in a difficult situation. This may be a blessing in disguise.”
The disruption from Florence hasn’t put a damper on the school community’s pride or its plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary, with a noon Mass planned for March 3 at Our Lady Star of the Sea, followed by an open house.
Holy Trinity School officially opened at its original site off Livingstones Road at the beginning of the 2009 school year. The original campus was located along the Waccamaw River and was formerly the home of Livingstone Baptist Church and Faith Christian Academy. The Diocese of Charleston purchased the property in November 2008.
The school started with 22 students, and now serves 87 in pre-K through eighth grade. Most of the families whose children attend come from the northern part of the Grand Strand, including North Myrtle Beach, Little River, Longs and Conway. One family that moved to Murrells Inlet on the south end drives almost an hour each day so their child, who is in eighth grade, can still attend the school.
“It is so exciting to have reached this milestone,” Luzzo said. “We started out as a tiny school and we weren’t sure what the future held, but we really believed in our mission. Everyone here feels called to serve people who want Catholic education for their children.”
She is especially proud of the school’s efforts to serve families who might not otherwise be able to afford to send their kids to a Catholic school.
The move to Our Lady Star of the Sea has been a challenge, but Luzzo said many parents are happy because the new site is more accessible. Members of the parish have also welcomed the students and faculty with open arms.
“People have been telling us they love having the children in the building and that the parish is coming alive by having the children here,” she said, adding that members of the Knights of Columbus and ladies guild have been especially generous in helping the school with its needs.
“The kind of situation we are in right now is almost a catalyst for the next 10 to 30 years for the school,” she said. “The future looks very bright and we are ready for whatever is down the road for us.”