OLP and Other San Diego Catholic Schools Come Together to Support Cristo Rey

Five prominent Catholic schools in San Diego—the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) in University Heights, Cathedral Catholic in Carmel Valley, Mater Dei Catholic in Chula Vista, Nativity Prep Academy in Rolando Village, and St. Augustine’s in Altadena—are all chipping in to help enhance classrooms in San Diego’s newest Catholic high school, Cristo Rey (CRSD) in Southcrest.

“As a board member for Cristo Rey San Diego, and in meeting with CRSD’s chief Advancement Officer Beth Nicar to discuss progress at the school, it immediately dawned on me that our local Catholic high schools, including Cathedral Catholic, could support the effort of classroom renovation,” says Kevin J. Calkins, Cathedral Catholic’s President. “I contacted Father Boom Martinez at Mater Dei Catholic, Lauren Lek at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, and Ed Hearn at St. Augustine High School, and they all agreed. I am delighted for Cristo Rey, and I am also proud of our Catholic high school community.”

This unique solidarity will renovate a classroom at CRSD, which is located at the former St. Jude Academy, a K-8 parish school that closed in 2011. The classroom will be one of four renovated this summer as part of CRSD’s spring capital campaign. CRSD is also prioritizing the construction of a state-of-the-art chemistry lab for the class of rising eleventh graders who will study chemistry in fall 2022. The new lab will include essential technology, equipment, and supplies—such as lab tables, desks, chemicals, safety supplies, glassware, lab equipment, and books—necessary for students to learn and advance in the sciences.

“Our building is more than 60 years old and requires extensive improvements to fully meet the needs of our students,” says Bob Nascenzi, Cristo Rey President. “We are grateful to our sister and brother Catholic schools for their support.”

Cristo Rey provides a college-preparatory education and unique work study program to underserved and under-resourced students. CRSD’s mission is to educate young people of limited economic means to become men and women of faith, purpose, and service, who are prepared for life. The school is hoping to raise $100,000 for its classroom renovation campaign and will hold a special giving day April 7, 2022.

“The most important part of our jobs as educators is to ensure our students have access to excellent resources and tools to lay the foundation for success,” says Lauren Lek, OLP’s Head of School. “In this era of global connectivity, I am proud that OLP has come together with its fellow Catholic schools in San Diego to support Cristo Rey’s growth. As one of us excels, all Catholic schools excel.”

“As Catholic educators, we all know the importance and challenges of fundraising to fill in the gap so students can receive the programs and high level of education they deserve,” said Mater Dei Catholic President Father Joaquin Martinez, SJ. “I hope our support and sharing of resources for Cristo Rey inspires others to contribute to their classroom renovation goals.”

Launched in August 2020, CRSD currently enrolls freshmen and sophomores and is adding additional levels each year with the goal of enrolling 350-400 high school students from freshmen to seniors by 2024.

It is the 37th school in the national Cristo Rey Network, which began in 1996, and which now boasts 23,100 alumni and a 90% college enrollment rate. Compared to the overall U.S. low-income population, Cristo Rey students are twice as likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by age 24. In the finest tradition of Catholic outreach, students of any faith, race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, and national and ethnic origin are welcome at Cristo Rey.

Visit the CRSD giving page to learn more about how to support Cristo Rey’s expansion.