A group of Oklahoma business leaders finalized by laws Wednesday, to bring a nationally renowned private school to Oklahoma City, aimed at giving teens in poverty a helping hand.
"Imagine a school full of kids who are excited about being there. Whoever heard about such a ridiculous thing,” Father John Foley asked with a smile on his face. “And yet they see it as a future, as a way out."
It was an idea Father John Foley and two other priests had nearly 20 years ago. Take students who need a way out of poverty and put them to work both in class and in the workforce, and the Cristo Rey high schools were created.
Cristo Rey schools are based on a work-study program. Students are in class four days a week and on the fifth day, they go to work in corporate offices. Teens are paid for their work. Their salaries go straight to paying for school.
“These are jobs in the professional side of the businesses. In Love’s it will be in the corporate headquarters, not sacking groceries,” Bill price said. Price chairs the initiative’s feasibility committee
Major businesses like Love's and Bob Ross Building Specialties are all backing the project, because they know it's good for their bottom lines and the community.
“The business knows that they're helping some kid come out of poverty and be involved in the business,” Price said. “Quite often they get employed by the business after they get out of college.”
Every Cristo Rey graduate goes to college. Students at the Jesuit schools have a 100 percent acceptance rate. For Foley the possibility is what it's always been about for him and his schools.
“The great majority of our kids are the first ones in their families to go to college. They never even suspected college was a possibility for them,” Foley said.
Price added they hope to have nearly 500 students within the Cristo Rey classrooms over the course of a few years. The school will start with about 125 teens. The committee does not have an official location for the school yet.
Price said they have been looking at older, now closed Catholic schools around the Oklahoma City area, but wouldn’t elaborate as to which ones. The committee hopes to have their plans finalized and the school ready for students by August of 2017.