Of all the challenges his school might face, “fast growth” is one Bryan Yorksmith is happy to tackle.
The principal of St. Anthony School in Show Low, AZ, Yorksmith and his staff are in the midst of planning a campaign to build a new school, as enrollment at St. Anthony has tripled since the school first opened with 34 students in 2006.
“We do the best we can with the facility that’s here,” Yorksmith said, describing the small cafeteria, offices, and portable building that serve as the current school. “But we’re growing out of [it]. So a few years ago we decided to start the process of a capital campaign to build a new school.”
First step – secure the land, and fortunately the plot next to the school’s parish, St. Rita, was available.
“We felt it would be better if the land was next to the church. We kept chipping away at it – we’d buy a lot here, buy a lot there. We’re completely debt-free now and own all the land outright.”
Yorksmith estimates the new school, all told, will cost around $3 million, although the final price will be dependent on the changing cost of materials and labor.
“We’re going to try and do it in phases,” Yorksmith said. “Our first phase is to get everything surveyed, get some plans drawn up, and get all the architectural stuff done. The next phase would be building a gym, then some offices, then classrooms around it.”
Much of the funding is steadily being raised through the generosity of the school’s supporters, community, and events such as the school’s annual golf tournament fundraiser. Because of concerns surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 golf event featured staggered tee times for teams and remote raffle drawings. Last year, revenue from the Golden Eagle sponsorship, normally used to help cover the cost of school field trips, was instead donated to the Love Kitchen, a Show Low food pantry.
“We teach our kids to give back, to learn that God’s love is about loving and helping others,” Yorksmith said. “This year, because of Covid, we’re not physically able to go to the Love Kitchen and help out, and do labor, but we are doing food drives, we had the VFW request some help with Christmas baskets.”
This type of give-and-take community support is what Yorksmith cites as essential to the mission of the school, and it’s given him confidence that building a new campus is a worthwhile undertaking. He also credits statewide programs like Arizona’s tax credit for private schools as St. Anthony’s “lifeblood”.
“Because of that program…we’re able to [give] scholarships to our kids, charge a fair tuition that pays for a thriving budget for our Catholic school.”
Yorksmith also credits his teachers, calling their work a “glimmer of light” for the community.
“Our school is probably one of the best ways to evangelize families, because kids come here and they learn about how to get closer to God, how to incorporate God into everything they do. And our hope is that they can take that seed and take that fire and spread it in their own families. And we’ve seen it time and time again – I’ve seen parents come back to the Church, I’ve seen staff and student families come back together because of their faith. What an incredible way to evangelize.”
To support the school or learn more about the campaign, click here.