Immaculata finds new space for growth

Immaculata Classical Academy students worked during class in this 2016 file photo. The school is moving into St. Leonard School’s building, 440 Zorn Avenue, in the fall. St. Leonard announced earlier this year that it will close at the end of the current school year. (Record File Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Immaculata Classical Academy — an independent Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Louisville — has found a new home where it can grow.

The school, which welcomes children with special needs into the classroom with traditional students, plans to move to the St. Leonard Church campus, located at 440 Zorn Avenue, at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

St. Leonard School announced earlier this year that it will close at the end of the current school year due to declining enrollment and funding challenges.

Father Louis Meiman, pastor of St. Leonard, informed parishioners in March that Immaculata will rent the school building.

Leaders at both schools said they hope this will be a partnership rather than a relationship between a tenant and a landlord.

“We’re excited,” said Justin Fout, principal of Immaculata. “It’s providential. We’ve been looking for a large campus and this was an unexpected find.”

Immaculata has 200 students in pre-school through 12th-grade and has outgrown its current location on the campus of Guardian Angels Church, 6010 Preston Highway, said Fout. The school, which grew from a homeschool, started with about a dozen children a decade ago.

The move will be good for Immaculata’s future, said Fout. “We’re thankful that God has provided a place where Our Lady’s school can continue to grow,” he said, adding that it’s also bittersweet because St. Leonard is closing.

Both schools are “excited” by this new partnership, he added, and he hopes that it turns out to be a “win-win for all.”

Teresa Riggs, St. Leonard Church’s finance committee chair, believes it is. Riggs said that finding a Catholic school wishing to rent the space so soon after the closure was announced is an act of “divine providence.”

Though many are sad the school is closing, they are pleased that Immaculata has found a new home at St. Leonard, she said in a recent interview.

Riggs is a lifelong member of St. Leonard. She, her sisters and her children attended the school. She’s proud of its 60-year history and successes in education, such as its personalized learning model and its award-winning “20% Time Project.”

“As a parish, we’re happy the school can still be used as a Catholic school,” she said. The space would have been rented no matter what because of the costs to maintain it, she noted. Immaculata was impressed with the good condition the building is in, said Riggs.

Seventeen years ago, St. Leonard added two new wings to the school, which include preschool classrooms, a gymnasium, a music room, school offices, a computer lab and a robotics and science lab, she said. Immaculata will be sharing the cafeteria, gymnasium and church with the parish.

Both Riggs and Fout said they are looking forward to the partnership and being involved in each other’s ministries.
Fout said he thinks of this as a “true partnership not just a business deal.”

“All parties are in it for the best reasons — what’s good for the school and parish,” he said.

Immaculata is already discussing ways for students to serve, especially with the elderly in the St. Leonard community, he said.

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Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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