KENOSHA — After more than 50 years serving Catholic high school students and 21 years serving seventh and eighth graders, St. Joseph High and Interparish Junior High will add a sixth grade next fall.

According to Robert Freund, principal of the school, adding sixth grade might be a precursor to an eventual K-12 collaborative Catholic education system in Kenosha County.

“We already have Mt. Carmel-St. Therese collaborating efforts, and we’ve been approached over the last number of years about the ability to add a sixth grade component to our interparish junior high.”

Several months ago, St. Mark’s Parish council approached Freund about moving its sixth grade students to St. Joseph School. The school board unanimously approved the addition with hopes for more collaboration in the future.

“We hope to begin (discussion) next year with St. Mark to create a K-12 Catholic educational system and environment,” said Freund. “It wouldn’t be all in the same building, but we would plan to align the curriculum.”

Merging the curriculum for all grades makes sense, according to Freund, who believes that creating grade specific educational benchmarks is the key to long-term success.

“Another nice aspect is that because the sixth through eighth grades are located in the same building as the high school, they will have access to more resources than they would in their smaller Catholic elementary schools,” he said. “We have computer tech, science and resources labs, and full availability of full time physical education, art, band and things like that.”

Also aware of the mounting difficulty for parishes to support their own schools, Freund is excited to bring as many resources together as possible to create the finest Catholic educational system possible.

“We want the kids to experience success,” he said, “And hopefully, we can keep all that at the table with articulation talks and see what transpires – we wait and see.”