Holy Trinity Clifton grows

Jennifer Richards, a teacher at Holy Trinity School Clifton, worked with students Daniel Cavallazzi, left, and Olivia Thomas using Math-U-See blocks in the classroom Aug. 17. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

When Holy Trinity School Clifton opened its doors to 13 students with language-based learning differences in 2019, the goal was to grow and eventually offer kindergarten through eighth grade.

Almost four years to the day, the school has done just that and more — renovating and re-opening the historic Eifler Theater for use by its students and the wider community.

The school, housed in the former Clifton Center on the campus of St. Frances of Rome Church, 2117 Payne St., now has 79 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The school originally opened with second, third and fourth grades, said Paula Watkins, principal. Now she’s excited to see the eighth-grade class — just three students — be confirmed, go on a mission trip and become “the first graduating class,” she said. 

Elliott Leib, walked on a balance beam Aug. 17. Ashley Berger, an occupational therapist, looked on. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Watkins, who previously served as a learning differences coordinator at Holy Trinity School St. Matthews, said the Clifton school was born out of a need to offer a Catholic education to students with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. 

Jack Richards, who serves as head of Holy Trinity schools, said that while the St. Matthews campus has resources for students who need learning accommodations, the Clifton school specializes in helping students with particular diagnoses and the teachers are trained for that. 

When students can no longer keep pace with their peers in a regular classroom, it may be time for a specialized learning environment like that offered at the Clifton campus, Watkins said.

The learning is “very individualized,” she said. “We move them as fast as we can but as slow as we must.”

Since 2019, two students have been able to transition back to the regular classroom on the St. Matthews campus. Three others have returned to their school of choice, Watkins said. 

But, she noted, that’s not necessarily the school’s goal. It all depends on the student, their progress and comfort level, she said. Some may remain in the school, graduate from the eighth grade and then have the necessary “tools for when they go to high school,” she said.

Amelia Lare, worked with Ashley Berger, an occupational therapist, on a balance exercise Aug. 17. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

School leaders said the Clifton and St. Matthews campuses are very much connected, though a little over three miles separate them. 

“Our parish has been intentional in combining our schools,” said Watkins, noting that Clifton students take part in activities and celebrate Mass with their St. Matthews peers.

The school recently finished renovating the Eifler Theater, which is intended to be a space for students from both campuses, she noted.

The theater received state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and a new stage floor. In addition, the bathrooms and green rooms were renovated, walls were painted and new carpet added. The theater also received a wheelchair lift attached to the stage.

The theater is open to other schools and the wider community for rental, school leaders said.

Father Shayne Duvall, who serves as pastor of Holy Trinity Church, said the space will showcase the students’ gifts.

Lily Hartlage, a student at Holy Trinity School Clifton, demonstrated a writing exercise Aug. 17 as Paula Watkins, principal, looked on. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

“The church is very much about the arts and utilizing the gifts and talents that God has given them,” said Father Duvall. “We want to provide whatever we can to let every child shine.” 

Father Duvall said it’s important to look back at the theater’s history and note that Father Jerry Eifler — a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville for whom the theater is named — was instrumental in starting the work Holy Trinity has completed.

Father Eifler helped develop the Clifton Center as pastor of St. Frances of Rome. The theater and the school are housed in the parish’s old school building.

Father Duvall said the renovations will serve generations to come.

Holy Trinity School Clifton will host an opening reception for the renovated Eifler Theater Sept. 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the school’s campus. Members of the community are invited to attend.

For more information on the event or for information about renting the theater, call the school at 896-8480.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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One reply on “Holy Trinity Clifton grows”
  1. says: Diane Smith

    To Ruby Thomas: I so appreciate the article on Holy Trinity school campus. I didn’t realize it was helping children with addition needs. I pass by often and look to see the children on the playground. I work with Special needs (pt time) for Seven Counties. Sincerely, Diane M. Smith

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