Helen, MD – ­­ Mother Catherine Academy, the only independent Catholic school serving southern Maryland, will open its doors this school year to the largest number of students to enroll at the Helen campus in five years.

The Academy will open Aug. 26 on the same site as Mother Catherine Spalding School, an archdiocesan school that closed last year. The Academy’s faculty, administration, parents and 15­member board of trustees ­­ the independent governing body that operates the school ­­ have reinvigorated the school community with fresh engagement, enthusiasm and innovative ideas.

“Mother Catherine Academy provides the families of Southern Maryland another choice when it comes to educating their primary school­age students,” said Tom Cavanaugh, president of the school’s board of trustees. “High academic standards, small classes with individualized attention, excellent teachers, education for the whole child, a community of parents who actively participate in their children’s education and most importantly, a school which incorporates Christian values into its very core form the foundation upon which the Academy will launch an upward spiral of continual improvement.”

Some of the more popular changes introduced this year include a multi­child tuition rate that caps costs for large families, an expanded STEM program, enhancements to the outdoor agriculture lab, and a renewed focus on basic skills such as public speaking. In addition to these innovations, the Academy has retained the best teachers from the former school and hired several new, highly regarded teachers. The school aims to improve upon its predecessor’s already impressive number 4 rank in math across all Archdiocesan schools while adding plans for a Junior Great Books reading program and continuing its after­ school computer programming club.

In a demonstration of their support for Catholic education, the Knights of Columbus will raise the US flag before leading the students in prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance on opening day. The flag was generously donated by Sen. Steve Waugh. The community will pray The Rosary before the official ribbon cutting ceremony that will mark the opening of the new school. The ceremony will be begin at 8 am.

“The Knights’ support for Catholic education has been tremendous,” said Marcos Lindekugel, a member of the MCA board of trustees. “It is fitting that they play a major role on this milestone day.” The St. Mary’s Council #1470 of the Knights of Columbus created a fiscal sponsor agreement with MCA, allowing individuals and corporations to make tax­exempt donations to the school through the Knights while the school awaits federal tax­exempt approval. The agreement has yielded several thousand dollars tax­exempt donations each month. Donations should be written to KOC #1470 Charities­MCA to ensure tax exemption this year.

The Academy continues its open enrollment program and school tours are available by appointment. An open house is scheduled for Sept. 20 from 1 to 3 pm. For more information or to schedule a tour, interested families can call the school office at 301 884.3165 or visit http://mothercatherine.org.