Archdiocese Approves Two New Catholic Schools

May 07, 2010

The Avalon and Brookewood Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland officially will become Catholic schools on July 1, 2010. These are the first independent schools in the county to get this recognition in nearly a quarter-century.

Under Church law, a school must receive permission from the local bishop – in this case, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl – before it can be called Catholic. This requirement helps ensure that Catholic schools follow Catholic teaching in their mission and programs.

Avalon School was founded in 2003 and serves 161 boys in grades 2-12, and is located at 200 W. Diamond Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. Brookewood, founded in 2006, serves 114 girls in grades 1-12, and is located at 10401 Armory Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895. Both are operated as part of the Avalon Education Group, Inc.

The schools will be independent Catholic schools. This means that they will remain responsible for their own governance, academic quality, day-to-day operations and finances, while also meeting the Catholic identity standards established by the archdiocese.

The approval process took two years. The schools submitted proposals that detailed how they would meet archdiocesan policies regarding Catholic identity, their relationship with the archbishop and archdiocese; sacramental life; and religious education, as required in the Policies for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Washington. Their applications were reviewed by staff from the archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office and Board of Education and site visits were made to each school. A report and recommendation then was submitted to the archbishop, who also consulted with the Priest Council and archdiocesan Administrative Board before giving approval.

The process is not common. While the Archdiocese of Washington has opened three parish or archdiocesan schools in Montgomery County since 2004, the last independent Catholic school established in the county was Mother of God School in Gaithersburg, in 1987. The only other independent schools approved by the archdiocese since that time are the Washington Jesuit Academy and San Miguel School, established in Washington, DC in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

The Archdiocese of Washington serves 29,000 students in 96 schools in the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland. Sixty-seven of the schools are archdiocesan; 29 are independent Catholic schools.

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