Monday marked a very special first day of school for students at Mother Mary Lange Catholic school near downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The new school was the first Catholic school built in 60 years in a city that was once known as the capital of Catholicism in the United States.
The school is named after Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, a Haitian American who in 1828 founded a Catholic school for Black children at a time when there was no public education for Black people in the slave state of Maryland. She went on to co-found the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, a religious order dedicated to the education of Black children.
Located at the former site of crime-plagued public housing project, the 65,000-square-foot school has a projected enrollment of 520 students in grades pre-kindergarten through eight, according to an Associated Press report.
The state-of-the-art school boasts art and music rooms, a new library commons and media center, a STEM Lab with makerspace and robotics, and playing fields and a gym that will be available for the use of families living in the school’s neighborhood.
Between 80-90% of the largely non-Catholic student body is expected to qualify for tuition assistance to attend the school, according to Archbishop William E. Lori.
In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun in which he announced plans for the new school, Lori shared the inspiration for the school.
“We of the Archdiocese of Baltimore also recognize that pervasive inequity and inability to access quality education represent among the greatest threats to the realization of young talent and potential,” wrote Lori.
“It’s in the spirit of Mother Mary Lange that we are putting our determined efforts and resources in service to the young people of our community by breaking ground for the first Catholic elementary school in the City of Baltimore in nearly six decades,” he continued.
Open to children of all faith, Mother Mary Lange school will offer a “Gospel values” education that “transcend[s] religious denominations, wrote Lori.