Boys’ Latin School to Join Archdiocesan System
Tiny St. Peter Claver Latin School for Boys has a lot going for it — or a lot to overcome, depending on your point of view. It’s the only boys’ elementary school in the area. The students really do study Latin. And it’s in Over-the-Rhine.
These are challenges, the staff admits. But they’re what make this school founded by the late Fr. Al Lauer in 2001 unique. And like Fr. Al, the dedicated staff think they are key to helping urban boys beat the odds.
The Archdiocese thinks so too. Starting July 1, St. Peter Claver announced yesterday, the school will join the Archdiocese’s school system for a two-year probationary period. That means it can apply for membership to the Cincinnati Inner-City School Education Fund (CISE) and benefit from other Archdiocesan programs.
“We’re really happy about it,” says Headmaster Barry Williams. “It will help us improve our standards even more, and I think we can offer a lot to the Archdiocese.”
The student body hovers at around 30, from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Last year the school graduated its first eighth grade class to have come all the way through from Kindergarten. It was the fulfillment of a dream Fr. Al had long ago.
“Fr. Al saw that young boys were getting lost at very young ages,” says Williams. “There were fewer intact families, lots of men having different kids with different women. He thought the best thing would be to separate them into a boys’ school right from the beginning. True Christian men with a good education can solve a lot of problems. They end up as strong men.”
Located in the annex of Old St. Mary’s Church on East 13th Street, the school now draws many of its students from other neighborhoods because, Williams says, neighborhood dynamics have changed in the last decade. Nevertheless, its students still come from inner-city areas, many arriving every day by bus.Though St. Peter Claver charges tuition, their tuition is paid by grants, donations, and Ed Choice state vouchers.
In addition to the staff of five, the school works with volunteer tutors and partners with Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, the Salvation Army, the Peasley Community Center, the Cincinnati Public Library, and the Cincinnati Boychoir. It also receives textbooks and educational computers on loan from the Cincinnati Public Schools. Classes are based on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s curriculum and meet all State of Ohio educational standards.
The building is old, but lovingly preserved, with cheerful classrooms where students are as likely to see an antique crucifix or a colorful, computer-generated message in Latin on the walls as a multiplication table chart. Currently run by a Board of Directors as a 501(c)(3) corporation, it’s able to give its young students lots of attention.
“We provide a great education,” says Williams. “You couldn’t get this student/teacher ratio even at Seven Hills.”
St. Peter Claver is the first elementary school to join the Archdiocesan system since 2009, when Sts. Peter and Paul in Reading, which had closed, reopened as an independent school in a new building. It is the first single-sex elementary school in the system. All new schools in the Archdiocese open with a two-year probationary period, according to Superintendent Jim Rigg, to accommodate the time it takes to complete the Ohio Catholic Schools accreditation process.
“We are very excited to welcome St. Peter Claver School to our family of Catholic schools,” Dr. Rigg says. “St. Peter Claver has demonstrated an impressive commitment to serving boys within the urban core of Cincinnati. We look forward to working with the school and helping it foster its mission to Catholic education.”
Photos courtesy St. Peter Claver Latin School for Boys.
Hear Fr. Al Lauer every morning at 9 am on Sacred Heart Radio.