Friday, December 14, at 11:59 p.m. is emblazoned in the minds of eighth graders (and their parents) throughout the Diocese of San Jose: the date when applications to most of the six Catholic high schools in the Diocese are due. For these families, the season of anxious waiting extends to mid-March, when students (and their parents) wait for the email to learn whether they have been accepted into their top choice school. Sadly, due to limited space, not everyone will be accepted into a Catholic high school, much less their first choice. However, a committed group of volunteers, in conjunction with the Diocese of San Jose, have been working hard to build a new Catholic high school Morgan Hill. The proposed South County Catholic High School will help improve the odds and make a high-quality Catholic education accessible for future generations.
Families, even non-Catholic ones, choose Catholic education for a variety of reasons. Many families embrace the Catholic values that reach far beyond the classroom. Each of the six high schools in the Diocese of San Jose emphasizes Catholic Social Teaching that encourages young people to value the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person. Students are encouraged to engage with the larger community in ways that contribute to the common good. The students are volunteering at food pantries and soup kitchens for the homeless, mentoring at-risk students, visiting lonely seniors in healthcare facilities, and teaching developmentally disabled youth to ride horses and enjoy nature, just to name a few examples.
The high-quality college preparatory education is another important reason for the great demand for admission to one of our high schools. Across the Diocese, over 95% of the students graduating from a Catholic High School attend college. However, these high schools are all located in San Jose or Mountain View leaving families in South Santa Clara County that desire a Catholic secondary education with few options. Every school day over 450 young people from southern Santa Clara County travel up to two hours each way to attend a Catholic high school in the Diocese of San Jose. This increases the number of cars on the road and the contributes to the horrible commute traffic, increased carbon emissions and poor air quality. This also means that many South County teens are not full participants in their local communities. The time is now for the South County Catholic High School.
The South County Catholic High School will be a great neighbor and contribute to the larger Morgan Hill and Gilroy communities. Catholic High Schools in the Diocese of San Jose enjoy an extraordinary amount of diversity in the ethnicity, national origin and income level of the student body. The South County Catholic High School will continue this tradition, welcoming students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Even before the capital campaign to build the school has started, there is already an endowment to ensure that all qualified students can attend the state-of-the-art school. The South County Catholic High School will help keep kids in the community where they can make meaningful contributions.
The next step in this odyssey is to gain approval from the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo), an appointed body of officials charged with setting the city boundaries within each county. The City of Morgan Hill has requested the expansion of the Urban Service Area and LAFCo commissioners will make their decision at the December 5 meet-ing. Ostensibly, the commissioners are determining Morgan Hill’s city limits, but in so doing they will be determining the future education options of Catholic families throughout the Diocese of San Jose.
The proposed school benefits all those families throughout the Diocese who are seeking a high-quality Catholic college preparatory education, not just those in Southern Santa Clara County. Although the high school will be a great asset for the greater South County community, it will also help to open spaces in the six existing Catholic high schools in the Diocese so those students who are anxiously preparing their applications for the December 14 due date will have a better shot at earning a seat in future freshman classes!
For more information to voice your support for the South County Catholic High School and urge our LAFCo commissioners to vote for the application, please visit www.southcountychs.org.