gmhTODAY 03 gmhToday July Aug 2015 - Page 28

South County Gets a New Catholic High School On a typical school day in South County, more than 400 teenagers rise early, grab breakfast and pile into the family car where they will spend more than three hours travelling to and from school. It’s a long haul that takes a big bite out of schedules already stretched to the max to include extra-curricular, homework and family time, not to mention sleep. So why do they do it? These students and their parents are willing to “go the distance,” literally, to pursue their ideal of the best educational experience. They want to attend high schools like Bellarmine, Presentation and St. Francis and obtain a Catholic college preparatory education with the hope of positioning themselves competitively for acceptance into the top colleges and universities. Parents like Chuck Berghoff who have sent their children to Catholic schools say it can help prepare students to achieve their intellectual, spiritual and social potential and that having a local campus can further strengthen the local community. Berghoff BY ROBIN SHEPHERD 28 is a Morgan Hill resident and high tech business owner who also volunteers his time as a director of youth programs with the Morgan Hill Rotary Club. A long commute is one thing, but there’s also the issue of supply and demand. South County is one of the fastest-growing regions in the Bay Area. As the youth population continues to grow, demand for admission into the existing Catholic high school system could soon outpace capacity, and it’s been more than 50 years since the last Catholic high school was built in Santa Clara County. With this in mind, South County community leaders began communicating with the Diocese of San Jose to develop a vision for a new high school. The South County Catholic High School project was created to transform that vision into a reality. George Chiala and other community leaders including Carl Reinhardt have been instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Along the way, the project has also won the support of Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate and Gilroy Mayor Don Gage. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2015 In May of 2015, the Diocese of San Jose announced that the proposed school has been named Saint John XXIII College Preparatory. Project plans describe a campus that will be built from the ground up as a 21st century educational center. The school will be constructed by the Diocese of San Jose on 40 acres of land it has set aside, located East of Highway 101 at Tennant and Murphy Avenues. Plans call for LEED-certified “green building” design and construction, with state-of-the-art classrooms, a libr ary, chapel, performing arts center and an athletic complex. According to George Chiala, “This school is a gift that’s going to give back to the community for generations to come.” Joining Chiala on the project are Chuck Berghoff and Mary Beth Anderson, Co-chairpersons for the fundraising committee; and Campaign Coordinator Susan Krajewski who works with the project’s launch and steering committees. “This school is an opportunity to embrace our youth, providing a rigorous