Archbishop Williams High School announced it will add seventh and eighth grades in the 2014-15 school year, a move that is becoming common at Catholic high schools south of Boston.
The Braintree school joins Xaverian Brothers in Westwood and Notre Dame Academy of Hingham in adding the two middle school grades recently.
Archbishop Williams president Dennis M. Duggan Jr. said: “It’s something we wanted to do for a few years. The archdiocese had asked us not to and we respected that, as I think was appropriate. We would have opened two to three years ago if we had a clearance from the archdiocese, but we got that this year.”
The switch not only helps Archbishop Williams adapt to the changing tides in Catholic education, but also enables the school to better prepare incoming students for the academic demands of high school.
“What we’re experiencing in the last several years is [with] children coming to us in the ninth grade, there was a divergence in their skill sets and readiness for ninth grade. We believe if we can get them in the seventh and subject them to a rigorous curriculum.”
Duggan said Archbishop Williams will be the second Catholic school south of Boston offering a coed education from grades 7 through 12 (Sacred Heart School in Kingston is the other), and the first in the region to open seventh and eighth grade enrollment simultaneously.
Though Duggan eventually hopes to have a total of 250 students in the seventh and eighth grades, the goal for the first year is 100 students. The high school has 525 students.
Tuition for the middle school will be about 85 percent of the $11,625 charged per year for high school students, Duggan said.
According to Duggan, the school has space to accommodate several hundred more students.
“We’re optimistic that this will be successful.”E-mail Jessica Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.