St. Ignatius school to move to Federal Hill

St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a Jesuit middle school for boys housed in a small space between the parish church and Center Stage on Calvert Street, will be moving to new digs in Federal Hill.

The move won't happen until the summer of 2013, but school officials made a public announcement Sunday after securing a space in the former St. Mary Star of the Sea school building on the corner of East Gittings Street and Battery Avenue.

"We are really excited. After 18 years in this building we will be moving," said John Ciccone, president of the academy.

The move will double the amount of space for a school that has had no athletic fields or gymnasium. Currently, the boys are bused to Druid Hill Park for recreation, said Ciccone. When the leadership began looking for a new space, a gym and playing fields were a top priority. Riverside Park, just blocks from St. Mary Star of the Sea, will be used by the boys for outdoor recreation.

The interior of the current school also is cramped, with narrow stairs and small classrooms, said Ciccone, so the new location will provide much larger classroom space that will make teaching easier.

For 130 years, the Archdiocese of Baltimore had run a school at the Federal Hill site until it shuttered the pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school two years ago, said the Rev. Patrick Carrion, pastor of three parishes in the area. Since then, the building has been used for religious education classes, but he said the parish is welcoming the new arrangement.

"The building was built with a mission of Catholic education and it was our intent to keep it that way," said Carrion, adding that the new arrangement was very much what the parish had hoped would happen.

The school, which takes only low-income students, now has 70 students and while it is the intention of St. Ignatius to someday add fifth grade, Ciccone said, the school plans to maintain its current enrollment for some years to come.

The school, which operates from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, is free to students and their families, but sponsors are found to support each student for the 11-month program. The cost is $12,500 per student. Most students go on to independent and Catholic schools for high school and 98 percent graduate from high school.

Ciccone said the school announced its plans right away so that it would have time to raise money and complete renovations to the building before the move.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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