Arts & Entertainment
Christ the King: First exciting day for new Catholic high school
MOORESVILLE — More than two dozen students stepped off the bus Aug. 24 for what marked a milestone in the Diocese of Charlotte: the opening of a new Catholic high school.
Editor's note: For more photos from Christ the King Catholic High School, go to the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel.
Christ the King Catholic High School is a unique high school in many respects, not the least of which is its growth plan. It opened in a temporary facility in Mooresville Aug. 24 with the freshman grade; in future years, sophomore, junior and senior classes will be filled out as the demand for Catholic education increases in this fast-growing part of the diocese, in suburbs 30 miles north of Charlotte.
The school day began with Mass celebrated by Father Roger K. Arnsparger, diocesan vicar of education. Father Arnsparger also blessed the classrooms and crucifixes to be displayed throughout the school.
Students then attended orientation and met with their teachers, seven highly-skilled professionals who are just as enthusiastic as the students in building this new school's identity from scratch.
At orientation, students and faculty discussed the Ten Commandments and their meaning for the students applied within the school setting. They had an abbreviated class schedule, followed by a final prayer in the school gym before dismissal that afternoon. Students also received rosaries and prayer cards as small gifts to remember their first day.
Students also had the opportunity to write down their impressions of their first day at the new school. They wrote:
"When I walked into Christ the King for the first time I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear, and take a deep breath. Everyone is so nice to everyone; it's like one big family," wrote Hannah Cutlip.
"My first impression of Christ the King was of when I first got off the bus. It made me feel very special and appreciated when I saw the entire faculty giving us high-fives and cheering for us," wrote Kaitlyn Miller.
Thomas Selzer wrote, "Once I got off of the bus I could feel the high level of energy coming from the staff. I liked that the classes are smaller so that it will be much less difficult to engage in the classes. This first day has helped me become less nervous and more excited in starting the new high school."
And Katie Keehne wrote, "I think that it will be a student's school, a Catholic student's school. I really noticed how everything was based around our Catholic beliefs. The Mass was an absolutely beautiful way to start our year and the rest of CTK's history. I love that we have been given so much trust! I am so excited for this school and feel very blessed that I am able to be part of the inaugural class."
Christ the King is notably the first school in the diocesan schools system to issue laptops to every student – to enrich their learning and power a technologically-driven educational model being put in place there.
It is also the first school in the diocese to offer an honors diploma in additional to the standard diploma. Honors courses will also be offered to freshmen – a first for Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools.
"By the time one of our students is a senior, he or she should be as comfortable learning online or independently as they are in a traditional classroom setting," said Principal Dan Dolan recently. "We have also reconsidered the sequence in which we will introduce our science program and all students will start with physics, then chemistry, and students will take biology in the junior year."
This method, called "Physics First" and embraced nation-wide in independent schools, is "an exciting way to engage students in the sciences," said Dolan, who has studied it for the past decade.
"It encourages a whole new level of understanding as students go into chemistry and biology with a greater conceptual understanding of the world around them," he said.
Christ the King is the second high school for Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools and the third overall in the diocesan schools system.
The school's growth plan includes a permanent facility to be built on a 95-acre tract annexed by Kannapolis in Cabarrus County, just beyond the Huntersville line on Route 73 near Poplar Tent Road.
The temporary site at 753 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy. is adjacent to Curlin Commons, a diocesan-sponsored senior living community named for Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin.
Little upfit was required for the temporary facility, Dolan noted. It had been built recently to operate as a school.
Before school opened, parents helped build a patio with picnic tables where students can eat, he said.
Students also came in the weekend before school began to paint the school's colors – blue and silver – and the mascot – the Crusader – in the student entranceway. The school's motto "Believe: Think, Act, Serve" was also painted in bold blue and silver lettering just inside the door.
And at the front entrance, a Bible and small icons of Christ Pantocrator and the Blessed Virgin Mary were placed to clearly set forth this school's truly Catholic mission.
The first day of classes at the diocese's 18 other schools also went well for an estimated 7,600 students, said Janice Ritter, interim superintendent of schools, on Friday.
"We are pleased that we had a smooth opening at our schools," Ritter said. "I know the principals, faculty and staff worked diligently to make that happen. One comment that I heard several times is that the students seemed glad to be back at school, and that is something we certainly want to hear. We are looking forward to a wonderful year."
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor. Staff writer SueAnn Howell contributed.
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