Cristo Rey Fort Worth acquires new campus to open August 2019
FORT WORTH — When Cristo Rey Fort Worth President John Pritchett announced April 1 that the high school was moving to a newly purchased campus with a gym, auditorium, and athletic fields, some students were so surprised, they thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
Applause and smiles quickly filled the room as reality set in.
“It was wonderful to watch the reaction from students,” he said. “It’s an exciting time.”
The plan to relocate Cristo Rey Fort Worth to a 4.47-acre site at 2633 Altamesa Blvd. from its current home at Our Mother of Mercy (OMM) Parish will help the innovative, entrepreneurial school grow quicker, faster, and for less money, according to Pritchett. Efforts to raise $2.8 million in cash and pledges for the property, as well as an additional $2.5 million needed for renovations, began quietly in January after the school’s board of directors approved the purchase.
Work at Cristo Rey’s new location will begin in two weeks to ready the campus for the 2019-2020 academic year. Further improvements will continue each summer as the school grows.
Organizers originally planned a 10-year, multi-phase expansion on land bought in Terrell Heights adjacent to OMM. The $20-million projected design did not include a gymnasium or auditorium.
“We love being at Our Mother of Mercy and part of a legacy that goes back to 1929 but, last fall, an opportunity presented itself,” he explained. “The former Baptist church purchased has a very large education building with classrooms, a gymnasium, and auditorium, and offers us greater flexibility.”
The building which once housed OMM’s elementary school reverts back to the diocese.
Opened in July 2018, Cristo Rey Fort Worth provides families with limited income a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education for their children. A corporate work/study program enables students to earn a portion of their tuition. Family contributions and philanthropy cover the remaining cost of education.
Part of a network of Cristo Rey schools across the country, the Fort Worth location is an independently governed Catholic school. Bishop Michael Olson is the sponsor and primary supporter, but Cristo Rey Fort Worth receives no operational support from the diocese.
Students, parents, and corporate partners greeted the decision to relocate with overwhelming enthusiasm, the school president said. The first public announcement was made before the school community at OMM after classes were dismissed April 1.
“People like the speed it will enable the school to grow as well as the opportunity it provides our students for academic success and performance,” he added.
And it also benefits campus life.
“Young people want athletics, fine arts, and clubs. They want to go to a school that’s like the neighborhood school their friends chose,” Pritchett continued.
But the blending of high expectations, rigorous academic standards, and professional work experience makes Cristo Rey different.
“We get that,” the administrator admitted. “At the same time we want to provide as much of that high school experience as possible.”
Cristo Rey is now recruiting its next freshman class. This fall some sophomore transfers may join the 75 students currently enrolled. At full capacity, the school will have 450 students.
People can find out more about Cristo Rey and the new campus at a Lunch and Learn event set for Tuesday, April 23 at 12:30 p.m. at the Altamesa property. The school also will host its first annual fundraiser, “The Working Lunch,” on Wednesday, May 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Texas Christian University’s Brown-Lupton University Union. Donations collected during the event will go toward the school’s operating goal. Guests can RSVP online at cristoreyfortworth.org.
Nearing the end of the first academic year, Pritchett applauds the school’s success and the many corporate partners and benefactors that made it possible.
“Cristo Rey is working,” he said proudly. “It brings the community together to improve the community and change the lives of these young women and men.”
Cristo Rey Board member Teresa Montes was present for the announcement and was surprised by the students’ keen interest in the school’s new home.
“The students are really engaged and have a sense of ownership based on the questions they asked,” she observed. “They are excited about having a gym right away and a bigger campus.”
The school’s president credits Providence for the latest turn of events.
“This opportunity was truly an action of the Holy Spirit,” said Pritchett, who was quick to point out other blessings. “Our Mother of Mercy enabled the school to open and inherit an incredible legacy of serving the underserved. It helped us build our Catholic identity. We’re forever grateful to OMM for being our founding home.”