Christendom College

Alumni Start Catholic High School

August 24, 2017

Starting a school is not an easy task — just ask the founders of Christendom College. And yet, the need is great in today’s educational landscape for schools that are both affordable and that teach the truths and joy of the Catholic faith. Seeing that need in their own community, alumni John O’Herron and Denny Pregent founded Cardinal Newman Academy in Richmond, Virginia, a private, coeducational high school that is born of their appreciation for having received such an education. Cardinal Newman Academy will open its doors for the first time this fall, welcoming a pioneering class eager to receive a Catholic liberal arts education.

O’Herron, Pregent, and other Catholic parents began discussing the possibility of Cardinal Newman Academy in 2013, noting the lack of choices in secondary education in the Richmond area. While there are three existing Catholic high schools in the Richmond area, one is an all-boys military school, the other an all-girls, and the other a co-ed school forty minutes from the city center. These parents surveyed other Catholic parents in the Richmond area, who overwhelmingly said they desired a coeducational Catholic high school in their area. With all this in mind, O’Herron, Pregent, and the other parents decided to found Cardinal Newman Academy, an independent school that would follow the great Cardinal Newman as their example.

O’Herron (second from left) and Pregent (fourth from left) both wanted better education for their children and others in Richmond. From that desire, the Cardinal Newman Academy was born.

“We wanted to create a school where knowledge was valued for its own sake and students could learn in a Catholic culture of joy and service. Blessed John Henry Newman was immediately the obvious choice for our patron,” Pregent says.

Cardinal Newman Academy will provide a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum to its students, along with small class sizes, co-curricular activities, including athletic opportunities, and a culture that fosters growth of body, mind, and soul. The school will open with 9thgrade this fall, with plans to add a grade each year. The school will also be open to people of all faiths, with Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church remaining central to the mission of the school.

Those who are part of this year’s 9th grade class will be pioneers who will help shape the school for years to come, just as the inaugural class of Christendom College did for the school when they joined in the fall of 1977. O’Herron, an attorney whose father was a founding faculty member at Christendom College, sees similarities between Cardinal Newman Academy and his alma mater, and hopes that the school sees similar success in the years to come.

Dr. Eileen M Lapington is the director of the Academy, and looks forward to creating an affordable, joyful, and rigorous academic institution serving the Richmond Catholic community.

“The commitment that my Dad, Dr. Carroll, and the other founders had to a particular vision, and the sacrifices they made to make that vision a reality, have been a constant inspiration. I’m confident that we too will look back 40 years from now with fond memories of these early days of the school’s life.”

Cardinal Newman Academy is a unique addition to the educational options for the Catholic parents of Richmond who are looking for something more for the education of their children. For O’Herron and Pregent, the school fulfills a personal desire to offer more for their children and others, as they look to fulfill the mission of their alma mater to “restore all things in Christ.”

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