Dear North State Catholic School Community:
I am writing to update you on our plans for our Catholic schools in Red Bluff. On March 5, I met with the Mercy High School community to share our goal of raising $200,000 and enrolling 70 students in order to operate Mercy in its current form. A lot has changed for us all since then; as we now know, that meeting took place just days before the outbreak of COVID-19 and our move to Distance Learning. Despite the hard work and dedication of many, we were unable to make our goals; as of today, we have 41 students registered and $137,000 donated, which is not enough for Mercy to operate in its current form.
The good news is that Distance Learning has taught us how to successfully deliver our curriculum to students anywhere. Because of this experience, and in light of these challenges, we have decided to re-establish Mercy High School under a new model. Next school year, Mercy High School will re-open at Learning Centers in parishes across the North State. St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, our sister diocesan school in Vallejo, will provide instruction using its highly-qualified staff and distance technology. Mercy will continue to be fully accredited and provide a UC-approved college preparatory curriculum.
Although instruction will take place at a distance, this is not homeschool; we want our students to access the program at Learning Centers in parishes so that we can ensure a community experience. We will work closely with pastors and parish pastoral councils to engage our students as leaders from day one, giving them real responsibilities in ministry and community service.
We will offer co-curriculars through the Centers - some as a system, some on a community basis. Our students will be servant-leaders in their parish and civic communities, and we will work with parishes to identify service opportunities for our students. We will offer student events like prom and graduation in one central location. We will also work to establish programs and clubs, like drama, eSports, and Mock Trial, that can meet virtually after school, and in person at regional events.
Mercy High School will offer traditional programs and student support. Mercy students will be able to go on retreat in conjunction with SPSV. We will offer college and wellness counseling services through SPSV, which, like Mercy, has a strong track record of graduates attending the country’s best colleges and universities. Whether we can offer sports will depend on the size and location of the Learning Centers, and we will encourage our students to participate in local club sports.
Our Learning Center for Red Bluff will be at Sacred Heart. Given sufficient enrollment, it is our plan to hire a qualified educator as Center director, offering support, mentoring, and tutoring to our students as they work through the curriculum and after-school activities.
Our base tuition for re-enrolling Mercy families will be $3,995, plus a registration fee of $450. That number includes the full expense of distance instruction, counseling support, and religious retreats. The Diocese of Sacramento will also offer continued financial support to the school during the transition. There will be an additional Learning Center fee that will reflect the cost per student of operating that Center. The fee will vary by Center, depending on overhead, technology, the number of students, the availability of parent or community volunteers, and the like. The more that parents and the community support the Center with time, talent, and treasure, the lower our costs will be.
This concept is innovative. Mercy High School will become the first accredited distance learning Catholic high school in California. We gain the ability to offer a Catholic high school experience to students beyond the few cities we are now able to serve. Mercy was founded as a boarding school for students across the North State. Thanks to distance technology, we can offer a Catholic high school experience anywhere, from Yreka to Grass Valley to Chico and Redding and Red Bluff and beyond, forming graduates who are servant-leaders in their communities, prepared for success in college and in life.
I am proud to report that Sacred Heart School is on track to grow its enrollment for next year, and Ms. Laura Clark and the team have delivered an excellent experience for our students with distance learning. Our students are on track academically, and we plan a strong finish to this year. Next year, we look forward to welcoming our middle school students back to Sacred Heart, and our high school students to our new Learning Center.
To those of you who have enrolled for Mercy High School next year, we will reach out to you to further discuss our program for next year. To our supporters, many of you have worked tirelessly to find a way forward for Mercy High School despite these challenges; thank you for all you do for our students and our ministry. Your efforts to support Mercy High School demonstrate the North State’s commitment to Catholic education, and we are grateful for your support as we transition to this new model.
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us.
Executive Director of Schools
The Diocese of Sacramento