James Rada, Jr.
For 55 years, Emmitsburg has not had a high school for its children. That has changed this year with the opening of the Chesterston Academy of the Annunciation.
The school had a soft launch this year at St. Anthony’s Parish, with just a handful of students in the 9th and 10th grades. It is a time to work out the bugs and get the word out about the new Catholic high school. Next year will see the school have its hard launch, offering all high school grades.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in the school, from Gettysburg to Gaithersburg,” said Kristin Crook, vice president of the school’s board of directors.
This new Catholic high school follows the classical high school model. It is approved as a Maryland non-public school. It is also part of a network of dozens of Chesterton Schools throughout the country. The nearest school in the network is the Chesterton Academy of Annapolis.
Crook said a lot of parents are interested in the classical education model because it teaches students critical thinking and the Socratic Method. The school also helps teach students how to choose to be joyful in adversity.
Importantly, the school is teaching students the value of face-to-face communication and of being able to express their thoughts, even if they are in disagreement with someone else.
“We want to teach them the crucial skill of communication and to feel comfortable disagreeing if they have a different opinion,” Crook said.
As part of a way to facilitate this, students are not allowed to use cell phones in the school. Because they can’t text their friends, they have to learn to express their thoughts verbally.
While the Chesterton Academy is small now, it has the potential for growth, and as it grows, it can tap into the experience of larger Chesterston Schools for how to add classes, programs, and sports. It is also connecting with Mother Seton School in order to offer students both a primary and secondary education.
Emmitsburg High School graduated its last class in June 1968. In the middle of the following school year, it was merged with Thurmont High School to become Catoctin High School. Since then, local students have only been able to get an elementary education at Emmitsburg Elementary or Mother Seton School and a middle school education at Mother Seton School.
“We chose Emmitsburg after a lot of prayer, and the Lord apparently wanted Catholic secondary education back in Emmitsburg,” Crook said.
With the opening of the Chesterton Academy, students can now receive a Catholic education from elementary school through college, all in Emmitsburg.
Crook added that the location is within a half-hour drive or so from many parishes in the area, which makes it relatively convenient for parents who will need to get their children to the school. The school also needed to be close to a church in order to have daily Mass.
The academy plans to move into a site in Emmitsburg next year. The board of directors has a location in mind, but they are still working to finalize the plan.
For more information about the school, you can visit the school’s website, which is under development, at www.chestertonannunciation.org.