Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 1, 1987
1986: Education In The Headlines
By Rita McInerney
Educating children, with its successes and its stumbling blocks, is always a top priority in the archdiocese of Atlanta. In 1986, however, there were two events to make the year especially noteworthy: the designation by the U.S. Department of Education of Christ the King School in Atlanta as a National School of Excellence, and the opening of a new elementary school, St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School in Lilburn.
On the other hand, some schools, especially St. Anthony's School in Atlanta's West End, continued to feel the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court decision of July, 1985, which banned remedial instruction under Chapter 1 federal funding on the premises of private, religions schools.
On Sept. 12, Sister Jean Liston, GNSH, principal; Margo Wolke, assistant principal, and Mary Charles Hare, enrichment teacher at Christ the King School in Buckhead, attended a Schools of Excellence recognition ceremony in the White House Rose Garden at which President Ronald Reagan spoke briefly. Later in a federal auditorium, their group was addressed by Secretary of Education William J. Bennett.
Christ the King School was one of six elementary and middle schools in Georgia and 270 throughout the U.S. selected for making the best use of available resources and for best meeting students' needs. Sister Liston said the school emphasizes the importance of each child in a warm and loving environment.
The new elementary school, which opened Aug. 25 to serve the rapidly growing Catholic population in Gwinnett County, is the first new school in the archdiocese in 25 years. The facility opened in a recently constructed education building upgraded at the cost of $446,000 at St. John Neumann parish in Lilburn. Then, on Sept. 5, Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan officiated at the groundbreaking for a new $3 million school building which will include classrooms, library, gym, cafeteria and offices.
Sister Dawn Gear, GNSH, with 23 years experience in education, is the first principal.. The school opened with kindergarten through fifth grade and plans to add a grade each year until the full K-8 is in operation.
Of seven Catholic elementary schools which formerly had Chapter 1 remedial classes in reading and math, two had no program in 1986; four had limited programs, another hired the teacher who had taught the remedial classes before the Supreme Court decision was handed down.
Among the schools having to accept limited programs, St. Anthony's at 953 Gordon St., SW, was hampered by the location chosen by the Georgia Education Department for the classes. The site, across a playground and through a park from St. Anthony's was the old Peeples Street Elementary School, a huge three-story building which was partially utilized and believed to be occupied in some rooms by homeless street people.
The principal at St. Anthony's, Sister Patricia Clune, CSJ, was fearful for the children who had to receive their instruction in a refurbished classroom in the old building. Broken windows, a strong odor of leaking gas, and debris were among the hazards of the site observed when the Georgia Bulletin visited with the principal. On March 29, the old school was heavily damaged by fire, with half of the building gutted and the remainder damaged by water. Since the fire, the children have been receiving instruction in two rented rooms above a realty company on Gordon Street, about three blocks walk from the school. Sister Clune considered the location as temporary, because of the time needed to reach the rooms, 10 or 15 minutes, and the problems of transportation in bad weather. However, the new school year began with the same site in use.