Messmer St. Mary and Messmer St. Rose will join Seton Catholic Schools for the 2024-25 academic year. This will allow Messmer to focus on expanding its high school educational offerings. (Submitted photo)

As Messmer High School plans its 100th anniversary celebration for the 2025-26 school year, it is excited to expand to accommodate up to 600 students.

In conjunction with this, Messmer St. Rose and Messmer St. Mary Elementary Schools will join the Seton Catholic School system beginning in the 2024-25 academic year.

The integration of these two schools marks a strategic collaboration between Messmer and Seton, said Messmer Catholic Schools President Jim Piatt. By combining strengths and resources, Seton will expand its high-quality K-8 Catholic education for children and families.

“This is the right time to integrate our elementary schools,” he said. “This step signifies a strategic shift, affording Messmer the opportunity to focus on enhancing Catholic high school education while Seton reinforces its proven model for K-8 education.”

Both school systems share their commitment to strengthening urban Catholic education in Milwaukee with rigorous academics built on a strong Catholic identity and culture, fostering not just learning, but also community engagement. Messmer and Seton will continue nurturing students holistically: spiritually, intellectually and socially.

According to Brian Couch, President and CEO of Seton Catholic Schools, Messmer St. Mary and St. Rose will join the 12 other schools that are part of the Seton Family of Catholic Schools on July 1.

“Plans to welcome the staff, students and families of the two elementary schools are already underway,” Couch said. “Both schools share a vision and commitment to serve children from every neighborhood in Milwaukee.”

As the cost of education rises, schools such as Messmer and parish-based schools are exploring other models to sustain the future of Catholic schools. Programs such as Milwaukee and Wisconsin Parental Choice have enabled children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to receive a Catholic education.

According to Couch, Messmer St. Mary and St. Rose are already aligned in many ways with the Seton model. The schools will remain in the same location. Students will report to the same buildings for school each day and bus transportation will continue.

“Families will notice an enhanced Catholic identity and culture as we work to connect the schools back to neighborhood parishes,” he explained.  “Our curriculum is based on best practices within urban schools, as is that of Messmer. There will be some alignment with the curriculum used by Seton Catholic Schools.”

Throughout the next few months, Seton staff will meet with the faculty and staff of Messmer. They will examine the ways they are aligned and where some aspects may need to be adjusted.

“Our goal for integrating St. Mary and St. Rose into the Seton family will be to build on the successful Messmer model,” said Couch. “This will be achieved through additional investment of resources and best practices to further deliver a rigorous academic program, a strong Catholic identity and culture, and an active effort to continue building a strong and vibrant school community. Seton has a proven track record of academic success for all students similar to the rich tradition of Messmer.”

The integration of St. Mary and St. Rose is not to prevent closures, said Couch, but it is an opportunity for Messmer to focus on his core mission, to expand Messmer High School and address its diverse educational needs. Messmer High School will help ensure students are equipped with the academic capability and cultural competence to thrive in a global society.

“This integration is about providing the best quality Catholic education for Messmer students and building upon existing best practices along with additional investments to ensure continued growth and momentum for students,” he said. “The investment in the Messmer elementary schools also allows the high school to focus on its core mission of quality secondary education and growing the number of students that they can serve and prepare academically and spiritually for their future.”

Messmer and Seton are striving for a seamless transition for staff, students and families of St. Mary and St. Rose elementary schools. As Seton continues to unite and enhance parish Catholic elementary schools across Milwaukee, the integration of the two schools solidifies a shared dedication to Catholic educational advancement and community enrichment.