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Boulder Catholic school opens doors to displaced students

Twenty-nine Boulder County children attending public elementary schools and displaced by the historic floods were recently welcomed tuition-free at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Boulder.

The school and parish, which also suffered flooding in the Sept. 11-15 deluge, collectively wanted to help restore some sense of normalcy to the community after the devastating floods shuttered schools throughout the county and destroyed thousands of homes.

The increased costs to the school, including paying for lunches for the new students and field trip fees, is being covered by an anonymous gift from a Sacred Heart parishioner.

“After the flooding, we were all asking what we could give and how we could help,” said Sarah Wostenberg, admissions coordinator for Sacred Heart. “As a school, we can educate the students and also offer a routine and a feeling that the students were no longer displaced.”

The pastor, Father Chris Renner, and Principal Roonie Leittem-Murrell instructed staff to do whatever they could to help the community, she said.

The new students, a majority non-Catholic, had been attending nearby Crest View Elementary School which was the worst damaged among the Boulder Valley School District buildings. Crest View was expected to reopen Sept. 30. One student attended school in Lyons and is expected to stay at Sacred Heart through December because of destroyed roads and homes in the small community.

The offer also has been extended to displaced students from Jamestown.

Once the decision was made for open enrollment, the Sacred Heart community spread the message through word of mouth, social media and flyers to surrounding neighborhoods. Wostenberg met with parents, many who had questions about Catholic education, and the new students began classes on Sept. 23.

The outreach is an important lesson for the other students at the kindergarten through eighth grade school with an enrollment of 260 students, Wostenberg said.

“This is an opportunity for our Catholic students to show their virtues of being Catholics,” she said. “It is recognition of what other people need and what we have to offer.”

The Sacred Heart students also are helping through a fundraising bake sale, food drive and putting together personal care kits, including donated toothbrushes, soap and other toiletries, for displaced families throughout the county.

Many Sacred Heart School staff and parishioners had major flood damage to their homes and some are living with relatives during the clean-up. Still, they are dedicated to helping the community during the months of rebuilding and open enrollment will continue, Wostenberg said.

“We checked in with our new students’ parents just to see how things were going and if they had any questions,” she said. “One parent said his child just seemed more centered. The parents are gracious and grateful.”

Cindy Brovsky: 303-715-3215; lou5213@aol.com

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