GOOD NEWS: 136-year-old Petersburg school is expanding

Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-13 17:19:45-04

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Four years ago St. Joseph’s Catholic School was on the verge of closing.

Now, the 136-year-old Petersburg school is getting ready to expand.

The school currently serves kindergarten through eighth-grade, but will expand one grade level over the next four years, to teach kindergarten through twelfth-grade students.

That’s good news for the current eighth-grade students, who will continue to attend St. Joseph’s.

It's also good news for the area, since the school now has students from nine different cities and counties.

But why the big expansion?

In 2008, the diocese said it was time to close the doors, citing declining enrollment and a decaying school would have to close unless a massive fundraiser could bring in $1 million. And to further complicate matters, the school had just 23 days to accomplish the task.

However, the school, which believes in miracles, saw funds come in from around the world -- and they met goal and were able to stay open.

While the economy took a downturn, the attention drawn to the school for the fundraiser and the Fort Lee expansion, saw enrollment go up, this year by 30 percent.

Many folks who helped with the fundraiser, also wanted the school to serve high school students. But they didn’t think the expansion would come so quickly.

But school officials and parents met recently with the diocese about a high school and it agreed to the school adding one grade, starting with ninth-grade, over the next four years.