There has always been a particular need in our homeschool community to address the needs of the older students for socialization, outside accountability, group discussion, and education, and Classically Catholic Enrichment (CCE) program formation came from that recognition. There are more programs for younger homeschool students as well as larger numbers of peers for that age group. The older students, by virtue of their increasing need for independence and decreasing numbers still homeschooling, has unique needs.
In 2011, several parents with high school and junior high school aged children felt a call to form an enrichment program option for that age group to meet these needs in our community. We wanted an authentically Catholic program, not a general or secular one. After hearing a talk to our teen group from Fr. James Jackson, FSSP, on truth, beauty, and goodness and inspiring wonder we determined the new program would have this as a philosophy. We decided to have a classical orientation to many of the offerings, using the Integrated Humanities Program from Kansas State University ideas as a model for approach and content. Our bishop at the time, Bishop James Conley, (as well as Fr. Jackson) had been students in that influential program in the 1970s.
Susan Fogo, Joan Bridges, and Mary Machado met in the spring and summer to plan and organize. Dr. Jared Staudt (then of the Augustine Institute) served as a consultant and Fr. Jackson was a spiritual adviser initially, followed by Fr. Joseph Hearty. We acquired space at St. Joseph Church (6th and Galapago) in the parish’s old high school building. Virginia Nolen joined us to form a Classically Catholic Memory co-op for elementary students. This program ran separately from CCE and was independent, but met concurrently for younger siblings of students in CCE.
CCE opened in September of 2011 with approximately 18 students aged 13-18. We met for five years at St. Joseph with highest attendance reaching almost 40 high school and junior high students. Students could enroll full-time or take just individual classes. We solicited mentors and instructors from the Catholic community, including Augustine Institute students, retired individuals, priests and seminarians.
In spring of 2016, the last of the founding directors, Mary Machado, retired and along with a change in leadership, CCE moved locations that year to St. Joan of Arc Church, where we stayed for one year. Because of the availability of more space, the CCE program was expanded down to fourth grade and a parent-led 1st-3rd grade co-op was added.
The following year, CCE was blessed to be offered the use of a large, beautiful facility in the Education Center at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Golden, Colorado. CCE continues to meet at this location and has been welcomed and found a home in this space. In the 2019-2020 school year, CCE was able to expand the program down through 2nd grade. CCE serves about 60-70 students each year, with families coming from across the metro Denver area.
The vision of the primary founders of CCE has been respected, even as CCE has expanded and evolved. All of our CCE families are grateful for the work of those involved in establishing and running the CCE program, as well as the parishes that have hosted us. It is our hope that CCE will continue as a blessing to the homeschool community in the Denver area, through education and fellowship, for many years to come.