Expanding Father Watters’ vision, St. Ignatius Parish will add grades to pre-school

Aug 19, 2021

August 19, 2021
By Catholic Review Staff
Catholic Review

The Jesuit footprint on local education expanded Aug. 19, with the announcement that the Loyola Early Learning Center, an initiative of St. Ignatius Parish in Baltimore and the Jesuit USA East Province, will open a kindergarten in September, with plans to grow into a PreK-Grade 4 school serving low-income children.

The tuition-free mission will take on a new name, the Loyola School, and open Sept. 7 with as many as a dozen students who graduated pre-K Aug. 19. As those children and others at the same level progress, the school will add one grade each fall until 2025, when it plans to have a total of 200 students in the preschool, kindergarten and first through fourth grades.

A news release quoted Jesuit Father William Watters, pastor emeritus of St. Ignatius and founder and president of the school.

“Our aim is to foster not only our students’ academic achievement but also their cognitive, affective, spiritual and social growth,” he said. “We will continue to recruit children from hard-working, low-income Baltimore families who are fully engaged in and committed to their children’s education, and we will support those families with $15,000 sponsored full-tuition scholarships provided by our generous benefactors.”  

According to the news release, in spring 2022, the Loyola School plans to convert houses at 104-122 E. Madison St., across from the north side of St. Ignatius on Calvert Street, into a school facility. That project is scheduled to be completed for the 2023-24 school year. 

According to the news release, it will incorporate the facades and fronts of existing townhouses with new construction to their rear and a main entrance on Calvert Street. An open house for Mount Vernon residents will be held at St. Ignatius Sept. 4, 9:30-11:30 a.m. 

The first Loyola School kindergarteners will attend classes in available space in the current Loyola Early Learning Center, which opened in 2017 at 801 St. Paul St.

The St. Ignatius campus formerly included St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a tuition-free school for boys in grades five through eight that was founded in 1993 and now is located in Federal Hall. Along with  Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a coeducational school in Fells Point that opened in 2007, it completes what Father Watters, who founded all three, describes as an “ecosystem.”

When the Loyola School grows to its full size, the three schools together will enroll about 670 Baltimore City students a year, almost all, according to the news release, children of color on full scholarships.  

“The Loyola School reflects the importance of education and social justice not only to Father Watters, board members and school supporters but also to the entire St. Ignatius parish,” said Jesuit Father James Casciotti, its pastor. “This church has been part of Baltimore City and the Archdiocese of Baltimore since the 1850s. Our parishioners and our Jesuit priests have been and remain entirely committed to the city and its people.”

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