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Corpus Christi in Falls Church to become two parish schools

First slide

Corpus Christi School in Falls Church will become St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School and St. Philip Early Childhood Education Center starting July 1, 2018. Since the school’s inception in 1990, the early childhood education center and the school for students in grades K-8 have been divided geographically between the two parish campuses.

Now, each school will be led by its own pastor and supported by its parish. The early childhood education center has 184 students; St. Anthony campus has 213.

In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said, “This new direction will give the students and parishioners an even closer relationship as they journey forward in faith. The Office of Catholic Schools will continue to support both schools in their mission and especially during this time of transition."

“I support the direction of both St. Philip and St. Anthony in their desire to promote Catholic education for their respective parish communities,” said Jennifer Bigelow, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Arlington. The decision was made after two years of discussion between the school and the Office of Catholic Schools, she said.

“For a pastor to try and care for two campuses has been a challenge,” said Nora Buçaj, principal of Corpus Christi. From a pastoral perspective, it was more beneficial for each to be responsible for his own campus, she said.

For the remainder of the school year, little will change while they prepare financially and logistically for the divide, said Buçaj. A bus ferrying students between the two campuses will continue. The tuition rate, as it was before, will not be based on one’s parish.

A town hall about the coming changes will be held next week for school parents and parishioners. Buçaj broke the news to the middle schoolers and saw the eighth graders realize they would be the last graduating class of Corpus Christi. The seventh graders then realized they would be the first graduating class of St. Anthony. “They ended up feeling more positive (about the change),” she said.

“I'm excited that it will help each campus based on its own needs, and will build upon the success that each campus has had to further grow and extend its mission of Catholic education,” said Buçaj.

Ann Stitch, preschool director, echoed that sentiment. “We’re excited to be just the early childhood education center going forward, being able to focus on events for the little ones,” she said.  “We’re giving them a firm foundation in the faith and we’re hoping they continue to go on to the elementary campus.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017