Spalding and Gehlen Catholic unification transition has begun - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Spalding and Gehlen Catholic unification transition already beginning

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Spalding Catholic students will have a reminder of their old school, even after the transition to Gehlen Catholic this fall. Spalding Catholic students will have a reminder of their old school, even after the transition to Gehlen Catholic this fall.

In January, an emotional announcement changed the future of two Catholic schools. Gehlen and Spalding Catholic will unify in the fall, meaning that students will all be headed to Le Mars.

Brady Hansen and his classmates are getting ready to wrap up their junior year. By the fall, they won't be in their familiar surroundings any more.

"It's just tough. I mean, we all kind of figured the day was coming that Spalding would close down but we figured it'd all be a little longer than this," said Hansen.

That's because enrollment figures were down at Spalding Catholic, and had been declining for years. Hansen says spending one year in a new school could be a blessing in disguise. It'll prepare them for college, just with a few extra familiar faces.

"If it was one person going over, you wouldn't know anybody, but now at least we get 15, 20 people you know in your class, and that's going to help a lot," said Hansen.

As 60 new teenagers prepare to leave Granville for Le Mars, the mixing and mingling of students has already begun.

"The freshmen came over and we played games and we got to tour them around the school," said Sydney Peters, a freshman.

"Our kids have really come together well. We started last fall, with football and cheerleading, sharing that together and I think that really helped. And I think they're just kind of naturally blending together," said Jeff Alesch, high school principal at Gehlen Catholic.

Even with the unification process, the schools are still going to be sharing their athletic facilities, like Vosberg Field here in Granville, and several fields all over Le Mars.

"Pretty used to going to Le Mars now, and we'll all car pool. So, it won't be as bad, if you only have to drive once a week," said Hansen.

Bigger class sizes and different teaching styles are another way the students will have to adapt.

"We're trying to figure out where to put these teachers. We'll have to share rooms. Kids are going to have to share more lockers than they do already," said Alesch.

Some worried that students would not make the transition to Gehlen, but school leaders are thrilled that most are staying on.

"We're very excited with the number that are planning to transition to Gehlen. That's been a very positive thing," said Jeanne Jungers, school board president for Spalding.

Many of the teachers at Spalding could transfer Gehlen or switch to the elementary school, to help with larger classes there.

"We will definitely be using all of our space next fall," said Alesch.

Even though there's the normal angst that comes with change, most Gehlen students are ready to embrace their new classmates.

"They've been together for how long and we've been together for how long, and hopefully we'll all just come close," said Megan McCarty, a freshman at Gehlen Catholic.

Spalding Catholic still has several things planned for their high school, including a 50th anniversary celebration over the summer.

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